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PETER SELLS, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This work is intended as an attempt to bring the phenomenon of resumptive pronouns under the scrutiny of analytical techniques current in generative grammar, particularly the syntactic theories of Government and Binding and Generalised Phrase Structure Grammar. It is claimed that the notion 'resumptive pronoun' finds a definition within generative grammar that is both interesting typologically and theoretically. It is argued that not all apparent instances of resumptive pronouns are truly so, and that languages may differ typologically in whether their grammars countenance 'true' resumptive pronouns or not. Data from Swedish, Hebrew, Irish and Welsh is considered in some detail and it is claimed that there is no universal uniformity in the grammatical devices a language may employ in its system of resumptive pronouns. The consequences of the proposed account of the data from the four mentioned languages for Government-Binding theory and Generalised Phrase Structure Grammar are discussed and integrated into the particular (sub-) theories that relate to them. Semantically, it is claimed that resumptive pronouns show the characteristics expected of pronouns rather than gaps (empty categories); data from Hebrew are presented to show that there are systematic differences in interpretation for constructions depending on whether the construction contains an empty category or a resumptive pronoun. These semantic issues are presented within the framework of Discourse Representation Theory as developed by Hans Kamp. Finally, data from English are presented to elaborate on the semantic nature of resumptive pronouns; it is claimed that English lacks resumptive pronouns and has instead what are dubbed 'intrusive' pronouns. The properties of the interpretation of intrusive pronouns are shown to follow from general and independent principles, providing support for the analysis in terms of Discourse Representation Structures.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

SELLS, PETER, "SYNTAX AND SEMANTICS OF RESUMPTIVE PRONOUNS" (1984). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI8500135.