LINGUIST List 15.2326

Wed Aug 18 2004

Review: Syntax/Comp Ling: Kruijff & Oehrle, ed. (2003)

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  1. Ahmad R. Lotfi, Resource-Sensitivity, Binding and Anaphora

Message 1: Resource-Sensitivity, Binding and Anaphora

Date: Tue, 17 Aug 2004 13:14:12 -0400 (EDT)
From: Ahmad R. Lotfi <arlotfiyahoo.com>
Subject: Resource-Sensitivity, Binding and Anaphora

EDITORS: Kruijff, Geert-Jan M.; Oehrle, Richard T. 
TITLE: Resource-Sensitivity, Binding and Anaphora
SERIES: Studoies in Linguistics and Philosophy 80
PUBLISHER: Kluwer Academic Publishers
YEAR: 2003
Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/15/15-173.html


Ahmad R. Lotfi, Azad University (Iran)

INTRODUCTION

''Resource-Sensitivity, Binding, and Anaphora'' is a collection of 10
papers (all written within the framework of Categorial Grammar (CG))
that mainly originated in a symposium on categorial approaches to
binding and anaphora held in Utrecht (1999). The editors have
organized the papers as 10 chapters in three parts: (I) Resources,
structures, and composition, (II) Resources, binding, and anaphora,
and (III) Appendices. The book begins with Kruijff and Oehrle's
introduction, and two appendix chapters by Oehrle on resource
sensitivity (''Resource sensitivity--A brief guide'' and ''Some
precursors'') conclude it. The 8 chapters that come in between
comprise the core of the book.

What follows next is a synopsis of these 8 papers. The reader of this
review must bear in mind, however, that the book heavily relies on the
Lambek Calculus, CG formalism and proof trees, which are inevitably
ignored throughout this review as the symbols cannot be represented in
a plain-text environment like the LINGUIST List's. Given the
importance of formal language in categorial approaches to grammar on
the one hand, and this limitation in typesetting, on the other, the
synopsis is not particularly representative of the original format of
presentation. This formal limitation also makes a critical evaluation
of the book quite uncomfortable.

SYNOPSIS

Johan van Benthem (University of Amsterdam & Stanford University) in
his ''Categorial Grammar at a crossroads'' compares in detail two
different categorial approaches to the study of grammar: proof theory
inspired by the original work of Lambek (1958), and more recent
developments represented by model theorists like Kurtonina (1995).
While a model-theoretic perspective seems to be inevitable, van
Benthem also examines the consequences of the enrichment of the
original (Boolean) operators with additional model operators. He
concludes that a number of models superficially as diverse as
syntactic models, process models and geometrical spaces inevitably
meet at the crossroads of CG.

''Language, lambdas, and logic'' by Reinhard Muskens (Tilburg
University) reviews the typical problems inherent in both directed and
undirected calculi and proposes to resolve such problems with a system
in which signs have properties in several dimensions. Although he is
still after a nondirectional calculus, his proposal differs from, say
Oehrle's, in that ''the phrase structure terms ... will not directly
denote (any) ... syntactic resource ... but a set of these ... .''
Moreover, ''for the basic combinatorics of the grammar, there will be
no calculus at all (p. 36).''

In reaction to such generative accounts of languages Chomsky's in
which LF serves as the level of representation at which interpretation
takes place--hence, not compatible with the direct interpretation
hypothesis, Pauline Jacobson's (Brown University) ''Binding without
pronouns (and pronouns without binding)'' emphasises that the
justification for LF depends upon an understanding of binding in terms
of variables, and, as a result, is theory-internal. Her account of
binding, on the other hand, is variable-free and compatible with the
hypothesis. She provides a detailed account of variable-free analyses
of relative clauses, ACD and ACD-like phenomena, and apparent
exceptions to the i-within-i effect to support her case.

Gerhard Jager's (Universit´┐Żt Potsdam) chapter ''Resource sharing in
type logical grammar'' proposes a logic similar to Jacobson's within
the framework of Steedman's Combinatory Categorial Grammar
(CCG). While maintaining the major characteristics of the Lambek
calculus, e.g. decidability and strong nominalisation, it still
remains compatible with Moortgat's Type Logical treatment of
quantification covering such areas of language as pronoun binding,
quantification, VP ellipsis, and how these three interact.

Following Kruijff and Korbayova (1998), Geert-Jan M. Kruijff (Saarland
University) presents an information-structure sensitive discourse
representation theory in his ''Binding across boundaries'' which is
not concerned with lambda terms (though still categorial in approach)
but formulas in a hybrid, modal logic. Emphasis is laid on
contextuality to the effect that linguistic meaning cannot be
evaluated out of a larger context. Information structure is understood
as a means for expressing contextuality: ''[a] speaker employs
information structure to present some parts of an expression's meaning
as context-dependent, and others as context-affecting (p. 130).''
Intersentential binding of anaphora is the case where discourse
accessibility relations are at work in a global
context. Intra-sentential binding, on the other hand, is related to a
local context. Nominals and jump-operators are employed to model
contextuality as such.

Glyn Morrill (Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, Barcelona) in his
''On bound anaphora in type logical grammar'' focuses on the binding
of both reflexive and non-reflexive personal pronouns in
intrasentential contexts. As a development of Morrill 2000, the paper
offers a type logical formulation of Montague's (1974)view of personal
pronouns according to which such pronouns are bound anaphors preceded
by an antecedent. Given Principle B, such pronouns must be free in
their local domains. According to Morrill, ''Principle B violations
are unacceptable because of their lack of communicative efficacy: if
the local c-commanding reading was intended, the cheaper and less
ambiguous reflexive form would have been used (p. 169).'' Morrill
takes Chien and Wexler's (1990) empirical findings concerning the
delay of Principle B in children's acquisition of English (in
comparison with that of Principle A) to support his view.

Richard T. Oehrle's (Berkley, California) ''Structural communication
in binding'' is an exploration of linearity in linguistic
expressions. The linear character, however, seems not to hold anymore
when it comes to examples involving pronouns. In an example like [Cain
blames himself |- - ((blame c) C) : s], ''the subexpression *Cain*
corresponds to two occurrences of the subterm c, while the
subexpression *himself* corresponds to nothing at all (p. 180)!'' The
paper explores how functional theories of anaphora take care of this
problem in three steps: (1) Copying the antecedent, (2) The copy
communicating with a function associated with the anaphora, and (3)
The function getting applied to the copy. The third step results in
the 'binding' of the pronoun.

Anna Szabolcsi (New York University) in her ''Binding on the fly:
Cross- sentential anaphora in variable-free semantics'' investigates
the question of implementing binding by lexical compilation v. extra-
lexical mechanisms of type inference. The author favours the latter
approach with a duplicator as a combinator identifying two arguments
of the function it operates upon. For Szabolcsi, the operator is not
built into the lexical semantics of the pronoun but applied ''on the
fly'' as a type-shifter.

CRITICAL EVALUATION

This collection of papers is a fresh contribution to the study of
binding in generative linguistics. Variable-free categorial accounts
of binding are of special significance in this respect as they may
pave the way for dispensing with LF as an interface level where
semantic interpretation takes place. This lends support to the direct
interpretation hypothesis, which is also in harmony with the
unitarianist model of language as a radical minimalist account of
grammar 
(http://www.geocities.com/arlotfi/lotfipage.html
for more on the topic).

The high theoretical values of such accounts of binding, however, urge
CG theorists to make their ideas more communicable to mainstream
generative linguists--what this collection of papers still fail to do.
Apparently, the editors themselves are aware of such a need: they have
included two papers in the appendix to provide the background. But
Oehrle's papers don't do much help, I believe, as they are still too
technical to serve the purpose. Moreover, the contributions are too
different (in their approaches, and also the range of topics they
cover) to make any other introduction feasible either. A better
(though more painful) strategy would be ask contributors themselves to
begin with a brief background to their topic, and keep the
introductory papers confined to the essentials of CG formalism and
history. A list of symbols and technical conventions at the beginning
of the volume would also prove helpful.

The book is also in need of careful editorial work. The German example
on page 26 has no English gloss. the 5th sentence on page 97 reads:
''Thus it is not surprising that especially bound pronouns pronouns,
bound have received considerable attention in the literature.'' In
figure 4.11 on page 107, *Harry* should be replaced with *Bill*. Some
sentences on pages 139 and 140 sound ungrammatical to my ear, e.g.
''Each of these partial lambda-DRSs need to be combined with ... .''
Left idempotence on p. 232 (A conj. A |- B) should be corrected as (A
conj. A |- A). And in the final paragraph of the final paper, which
apparently was originally intended to appear at the beginning of the
book, Oehrle writes: ''A similar range of alternatives is explored in
the papers to follow (p. 286).''

REFERENCES

Chien, Y. C. and K. Wexler (1990). Children's knowledge of locality
conditions in binding as evidence for the modularity of syntax and
pragmatics. Language Acquisition, 1:225-295.

Kruijff-Korbayova, I. (1998). The dynamic potential of topic and
focus: A Praguian approach to discourse representation theory. PhD
dissertation, Faculty ofM athematics and Physics, Charles university,
Prague, Czech Republic.

Kurtonina, N. (1995). Frames and labels. A modal analysis of
categorial reference. PhD dissertation, OTS Utrecht and ILLC
Amsterdam.

Lambek, J. (1958). The mathematics of sentence structure. American
Mathematical Monthly, 65:154-170.

Montague, R. (1974). The proper treatment of quantification in
ordinary English. In Formal Philosophy: Selected Papers of Richard
Montague, pages 247-270.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Dr. Ahmad R. Lotfi, Assistant Professor of linguistics at the English
Department of Esfahan Azad University, where he teaches linguistics to
graduate students of TESOL. His research interests include minimalist
syntax, second language acquisition studies in generative grammar, and
Persian linguistics.
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