Gaps and Dummies

Gaps and Dummies

Hans Bennis
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 352
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Gaps and Dummies
    Book Description:

    In this study the syntactic properties of empty categories and dummy pronouns are investigated within the framework of Government-Binding theory. The assumption that clauses must have a subject is present in most, if not all, linguistic theories. In GB theory the requirement that clauses have a subject is stipulated as a consequence of the base rules or the Extended Projection Principle. In this book it is claimed that no such stipulation is necessary. The presence of a subject is exclusively determined by the theories of thematic roles and Case. This view is supported by the fact that the alleged dummy subjects Dutch, i.e. er and het, show a variety of properties, which can only be explained if they are not analyzed as dummy subjects. Further confirmation is derived from the fact that Dutch, subjectless sentences are found in precisely those circumstances in which neither -theory nor Case theory requires a subject to be present. Chapter 1 presents a theory of empty categories. This theory enables us to explain the distribution of gaps, and makes precise and correct predictions with respect to the occurrence of parasitic gaps. The non-dummy status of het, discussed in chapter 2, is supported by the fact that it can be the antecedent of PRO, reflexives, and parasitic gaps, and by an asymmetry in wh-movement from sentential complements. The analysis of het leads to a discussion of a variety of constructions, including constructions with raising, ergative, and psychological verbs. The adverbial pronoun er displays several distinct syntactic functions. In chapter 3 it is argued that none of these different functions justifies an analysis of er as a dummy subject. In chapter 4 some of the consequences of the theory introduced in the preceding chapters are investigated. These include a discussion of the status of the subject position in languages such as English, Italian, French, and Spanish, the structure of Old English, and the status of dummy pronouns in German and English.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0415-2
    Subjects: Linguistics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    In this study the syntactic properties are investigated of empty categories, i.e."gaps", and what are sometimes referred to as "semi-empty categories". i.e."dummies". Whereas the existence of lexical categories is relatively theory-neutral, it is clear that the existence of gaps and dummies is to a large extent determined by theoretical considerations. One can easily imagine a theory without empty categories and dummy pronouns. The theoretical framework adopted here is the Government-Binding Theory, as developed in Chomsky (1981,1982). Throughout this study I will assume familiarity with the central concepts of this theory, such as the notions of Universal Grammar, the Projection Principle,...

  5. Chapter 1 Gaps and Parasitic Gaps
    (pp. 7-92)

    Recently, the phenomenon of parasitic gaps has become one of the most widely discussed topics in generative grammar. Their relevance to linguistic theory derives on the one hand from their systematic distribution, as pointed out by Engdahl (1983), and on the other hand from the fact that their appearance is so peripheral that "it is highly unlikely that new and independent principles need be invoked" to determine their distribution "or that rules of particular grammars are involved" (Chomsky 1982,39). In Some Concepts and Consequences (Chomsky 1982), it is demonstrated that the distribution of parasitic gaps in English can in fact...

  6. Chapter 2 HET as a Referential Expression
    (pp. 93-170)

    In this chapter it will be argued that Dutch het is not a dummy pronoun when it functions as the subject of a weather verb, or when it is in construction with an extraposed sentential complement. In the latter structure het may appear in subject and in object position. I shall provide arguments for the correctness of this hypothesis and discuss some of its implications.[lJ.

    We can distinguish two different instances of the dummy pronoun het. Dutch het is similar to English it in this respect. The first instance concerns its use as a subject in construction with a weather...

  7. Chapter 3 The Adverbial Pronoun ER
    (pp. 171-258)

    In the previous chapters. the pronoun er and the class of R-pronouns was introduced at several points. In this chapter I shall focus on the pronoun er mainly in relation to its so-called dummy-pronoun status. The dummy-pronoun appearance of er is only one of the many possible functions of er. I shall argue that in all its uses er is an adverbial pronoun that may enter tnto a variety of syntactic relations. In some sense the spirit of this chapter is similar to that of the preceding one. Het was argued to be a referential NP in all cases. This...

  8. Chapter 4 Some Related Topics
    (pp. 259-328)

    In this chapter I shall pursue some of the implications of the theory presented in the previous chapters. In the first few sections I shall basically be concerned with two theoretical issues. In the later sections I shall discuss the implications of the theory for several other languages. Although the two parts of this chapter are closely related, it is less homogeneneous than the preceding ones. It will also be rather sketchy, since it is impossible to discuss the distribution and properties of gaps and dummies in other languages in just as much detail as in Dutch. I shall provide...

  9. References
    (pp. 329-338)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 339-339)