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The case of PRO

Sigurðsson, Halldor Armann LU (2008) In Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 26(2). p.403-450
Abstract
Icelandic case agreement suggests that nominative case is active in PRO infinitives in much the same way as in finite clauses, thus posing a difficult and a long-standing problem for generative (GB and minimalist) case theory and the PRO Theorem. In this article, I examine the Icelandic facts in detail, illustrating that the unmarked and common nominative morphology in Icelandic PRO infinitives is regular structural nominative morphology, suggesting that PRO cannot be reduced to a copy. What went wrong in the GB approach to PRO was not PRO itself but the binding theoretic and ‘Case’ theoretic conception of it. PRO is an empty category that is simultaneously a reference variable (like overt pronouns and anaphors) and a phi-feature variable... (More)
Icelandic case agreement suggests that nominative case is active in PRO infinitives in much the same way as in finite clauses, thus posing a difficult and a long-standing problem for generative (GB and minimalist) case theory and the PRO Theorem. In this article, I examine the Icelandic facts in detail, illustrating that the unmarked and common nominative morphology in Icelandic PRO infinitives is regular structural nominative morphology, suggesting that PRO cannot be reduced to a copy. What went wrong in the GB approach to PRO was not PRO itself but the binding theoretic and ‘Case’ theoretic conception of it. PRO is an empty category that is simultaneously a reference variable (like overt pronouns and anaphors) and a phi-feature variable (unlike overt expressions). Due to this unique combination of variable properties, PRO cannot be deduced from other traits of grammar, such as movement, nor can it possibly be lexicalized. Importantly, also, the facts studied here suggest that case is a post-syntactic category, assigned in morphology. In contrast, Person is evidently a syntactically active category, having some of the properties and effects that have commonly been attributed to ‘Case’. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Icelandic, control, case transmission, case, agreement, Person, PRO
in
Natural Language & Linguistic Theory
volume
26
issue
2
pages
403 - 450
publisher
Springer
external identifiers
  • wos:000258902400005
  • scopus:51549103926
ISSN
0167-806X
DOI
10.1007/s11049-008-9040-6
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
96513a7c-1bf6-4b36-8e3b-bc20ca3f14e6 (old id 1024076)
date added to LUP
2008-02-05 14:43:09
date last changed
2017-08-13 03:55:17
@article{96513a7c-1bf6-4b36-8e3b-bc20ca3f14e6,
  abstract     = {Icelandic case agreement suggests that nominative case is active in PRO infinitives in much the same way as in finite clauses, thus posing a difficult and a long-standing problem for generative (GB and minimalist) case theory and the PRO Theorem. In this article, I examine the Icelandic facts in detail, illustrating that the unmarked and common nominative morphology in Icelandic PRO infinitives is regular structural nominative morphology, suggesting that PRO cannot be reduced to a copy. What went wrong in the GB approach to PRO was not PRO itself but the binding theoretic and ‘Case’ theoretic conception of it. PRO is an empty category that is simultaneously a reference variable (like overt pronouns and anaphors) and a phi-feature variable (unlike overt expressions). Due to this unique combination of variable properties, PRO cannot be deduced from other traits of grammar, such as movement, nor can it possibly be lexicalized. Importantly, also, the facts studied here suggest that case is a post-syntactic category, assigned in morphology. In contrast, Person is evidently a syntactically active category, having some of the properties and effects that have commonly been attributed to ‘Case’.},
  author       = {Sigurðsson, Halldor Armann},
  issn         = {0167-806X},
  keyword      = {Icelandic,control,case transmission,case,agreement,Person,PRO},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {403--450},
  publisher    = {Springer},
  series       = {Natural Language & Linguistic Theory},
  title        = {The case of PRO},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11049-008-9040-6},
  volume       = {26},
  year         = {2008},
}