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Bookmark and Share Paper 1466

Possessive Antecedents to Donkey Pronouns
Kyle Rawlins
337-345 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This paper deals with the problem of "of"-possessives (e.g., "the cover of a book") that antecede donkey pronouns. Donkey sentences with "of"-possessive antecedents (e.g., "if the cover of a book is missing, someone unethical must have removed it") present a complication for current theories of donkey pronouns: the immediate antecedent of the pronoun ("the cover of a book") is definite, but it is the buried indefinite possessor ("a book") that triggers a quantificational variability effect in the antecedent. Current theories consistently rely on the indefinite determiner being the head of the antecedent, and therefore make the wrong predictions about "of"-possessives. The paper discusses the problem from the perspective of both E-type/D-type theories of donkey pronouns, and dynamic theories, and develops a compositional dynamic analaysis of "of"-possessive antecedents. The analysis involves local accommodation of a familiarity presupposition during composition; a constraint on accommodation keyed on the presence of a salient relation introduced by the relational noun head permits accommodation in "of"-possessives but not with definite descriptions generally.

Published in

Proceedings of the 25th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Donald Baumer, David Montero, and Michael Scanlon
Table of contents
Printed edition: $375.00