Reference to individuals, person, and the variety of mapping parameters

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The paper addresses two related questions: whether the principle that nominal arguments must be projections of D, apparently holding in many Romance languages, holds in English and in other languages as well; and why such a principle should exist at all. The answer empirically suggested to the first question is that the principle does hold in English, contrary to Chierchia (1998) and supporting the N-movement approach to the nominal Romance-Germanic parametrization proposed by Longobardi (1996), but that certain other languages, specifically Japanese, are likely to exhibit nominal arguments without D, as expected in Chierchia’s (1998) framework. Following the restrictive approach to phrase structure proposed by Chomsky (1995, ch 4.), the second question will be addressed by identifying D with the Person head and by arguing that the latter feature is crucial to allow type-shifting from property- to individual-denotation. Under a minimalist theory of parameter formats, it will be argued that all the three possible polymorphic realizations of the feature Person admitted by such a theory are crosslinguistically instantiated, precisely by Japanese, English, and Italian.


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