School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Guest Speaker Seminar Series | Keir Moulton (Simon Fraser U.)

15 November 2017

Time: 4:30 - 6:00pm
Venue: ArtsTwo 2.17

We are pleased to welcome Dr Moulton (Simon Fraser University), who will present some of his recent research:

C-command matters: the processing and grammar of co-varying pronouns

Since Reinhart 1976, it is commonly reported that bound variable pronouns are subject to a c-command requirement. This claim is not universally agreed on (Bach and Partee, 1980, et seq.) and was challenged by Barker 2012, who argued that bound pronouns must merely fall in the semantic scope of a binding quantifier. In the processing literature, recent results have been advanced in support of c-command (Kush et al. 2015, Cunnings et al. 2015). However, none of these studies separates semantic scope from c-command. In this talk I will report the results of Moulton and Han (to appear) which show that when we put both c-commanding and non-c-commanding quantifiers on equal footing in their ability to scope over a pronoun, there is nonetheless a processing difference between the two. The results establish that c-command, not scope alone, is relevant for the processing of bound variables. I then explore how these results, combined with other experimental findings, support a view in which the grammar distinguishes between c-commanded and non-c-commanded co-varying pronouns, the latter as D-type pronouns (Elbourne 2005). I then present an account of the processing data by combining an idea about how phi-features are encoded in the grammar of variable binding (Sudo 2012) with the view that antecedent retrieval in processing relies on a content addressable memory (Lewis et al. 2006).