The disunity of Principle B Effects




It is a typologically well-attested generalization that simple personal pronouns are avoided when the purpose is to signal semantic identity between coarguments of a predicate (Faltz, 1985; Comrie, 1999; Levinson, 2000; Haspelmath, 2008, forthcoming; Volkova & Reuland, 2014). Many linguists assume what I call the Unified View, where these pronoun disjointness effects come out as a byproduct of a single syntactic constraint, generally known as Principle B of the Binding Theory (Chomsky, 1981, 1986; Pollard & Sag, 1994; Manning & Sag, 1998; Pollard, 2005; Müller, 2021). This paper argues that the Unified View is mistaken because it is both too weak and too strong. As an alternative, I propose that pronoun disjointness effects stem from a conspiracy of three distinct factors – none of which is a syntactic universal: (i) a preference for expressing identity with coindexation rather than anchoring distinct indices to the same referent (Reinhart, 1983); (ii) a language-specific variant of HPSG’s Principle B; and (iii) a constraint on the morphosyntactic encoding of reflexive relations (Faltz, 1985; Reinhart & Reuland, 1993; König & Siemund, 2000).




How to Cite

Varaschin, Giuseppe. 2021. The disunity of Principle B Effects. Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar 220–240. (doi:10.21248/hpsg.2021.12) ( (Accessed May 20, 2022.)