Runner’s talk at Northwestern

Northwestern University Department of Linguistics Colloquium presents

On the Role of Syntax on the Interpretation of Elided Reflexives

Jeffrey Runner
University of Rochester

The main explanations for the exceptional behavior of reflexives in “representational NPs” (RNPs), e.g., ‘a picture of herself’, rely on syntactic or argument structure (Chomsky, 1986; Davies & Dubinsky, 2003; Pollard & Sag, 1992; Reinhart & Reuland, 1993). “Reference transfer” (RT) allows reference to a representation of a person by that person’s name, e.g., referring to a statue of Ringo Starr as ‘Ringo Starr’ (Jackendoff, 1992). Like RNP reflexives (Grodzinsky & Reinhart, 1993), RT reflexives may receive coreferential interpretations when elided (Lidz, 2001). Here I present evidence from collaborative work with Micah Goldwater (UT Austin) of two scene verification experiments and two “visual world” eye-tracking experiments suggesting that it may be the representational use of RNP reflexives- and not (just) the syntactic/argument structure- that allows for their exceptional behavior. Interesting differences are found between the two sets of experiments, which can also shed light on the approaches to ellipsis interpretation discussed by Kehler (2000) and Frazier & Clifton (2006).

Friday, February 15, 2008
3:30 p.m.
Chambers Hall (600 Foster Street), Lower Classroom Level