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Bookmark and Share Paper 3464

Bare Singulars and the Interpretation of Small Clause Subjects
Jyoti Iyer
209-219 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


The English adverb again gives rise to two distinct readings for sentences like Lisa opened the door again. These readings are generally analysed as reflecting an attachment ambiguity: the "high" reading conveys repetition of an event (Lisa opened the door and she had done so before), while the "low" reading conveys a state being restored (Lisa opened the door and it had been open before). The height-based account hinges on decomposition of the verb into a v head and an adjective, e.g., open = CAUSE + OPEN to create a ResultP attachment site for the adverb. Strikingly, the restitutive reading (but not the repetitive) exhibits an interpretive restriction which we may call the Ban on Narrow Scope (BNS): restitutive objects cannot have narrow scope. The existing explanation of the BNS via A-movement of the direct object is argued to rest on problematic assumptions about case and also have some unwelcome consequences revealed when considering other languages. Since verbal decomposition causes the direct object of the sentence to also be the subject of an adjectival small clause, this paper suggests a novel understanding of the BNS as an instantiation of the more general Williams' Problem: raised subjects of adjectival small clauses can never reconstruct. The paper proposes a type-restriction explanation: the subject of a small clause can only be of type e. In English, this restriction is satisfied by QR of higher type subjects, leaving an entity trace. Further, data from Hindi-Urdu shows that the correct explanation must abstract away from the particularities of scopal properties of indefinites. In Hindi-Urdu, bare singulars also appear to observe the BNS even though they are not scope-taking elements. As such, bare singulars satisfy the type-restriction in a different way, namely with type-shifting via iota. The interpretive effect of this type-shift is in fact observable, as is a welcome word-order consequence.

Published in

Proceedings of the 36th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Richard Stockwell, Maura O'Leary, Zhongshi Xu, and Z.L. Zhou
Table of contents
Printed edition: $395.00