Linguistics in Göttingen - A platform for empirical and theoretical linguistics

Winfried Lechner (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens): A Calculus for Reconstruction and Anti-reconstruction

The presentation pursues two interrelated goals pertaining to the theory of reconstruction. In the first part, I will review arguments for the view that movement can be undone either in syntax (Copy Theory) or in the semantic component (?-conversion into higher type traces). The resulting hybrid theory of reconstruction accounts for dissociations between quantifier scope and binding domains (Lechner 1996, 1998; Sharvit 1998), but also leads to overgeneration (Romero 1998; Fox 1999). The system will accordingly be supplemented by two independently motivated assumptions regulating the distribution of higher type traces (similar to Keshet 2010) and the internal make up of copies. The condition on higher type traces will further be seen to have important general consequences for the representation of scope inversion.

In the second part, I present a calculus, that is a complete formal system operating on purely syntactic representations, which derives the differences between free scope languages like English and scope rigid ones such as German and Japanese. The central distinctive properties will be seen to reduce to (i) a difference in timing (in German, all movement applies in overt syntax, possibly by Overt Covert Movement, while English has the option of postponing QR to LF) and (ii) a small adjustment in the theory of anti-reconstruction developed in Takahashi (2006) and Takahashi and Hulsey (2009).

Together, these analyses represent the first complete, algorithmic account of quantifier scope, scope rigidity, reconstruction and anti-reconstruction effects in English and German transitive constructions.