LINGUIST List 16.486

Thu Feb 17 2005

Books: Syntax/Linguistic Theories: Safir

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        1.    David Weininger, The Syntax of (In)Dependence: Safir

Message 1: The Syntax of (In)Dependence: Safir

Date: 16-Feb-2005
From: David Weininger <>
Subject: The Syntax of (In)Dependence: Safir

Title: The Syntax of (In)Dependence
Series Title: Linguistic Inquiry Monographs
Published: 2004
Publisher: MIT Press

Book URL:

Author: Ken Safir
Hardback: ISBN: 0262195003 Pages: 206 Price: U.S. $ 62
Paperback: ISBN: 0262693003 Pages: 206 Price: U.S. $ 25

One of the most important discoveries of modern linguistic theory is that
abstract structural properties of utterances place subtle restrictions on
how we can use a given form or description. For the past thirty years,
these restrictions have been explored for possible clues to the exact
nature of the structural properties in question. In The Syntax of
(In)Dependence Ken Safir explores these structural properties and develops
a theory of dependent identity interpretations that also leads to new
empirical generalizations. These generalizations range across a wide class
of empirical phenomena, including the distribution of crossover effects,
bound variables in ellipsis, functional answers to questions, resumptive
pronoun constructions, (anti-) reconstruction effects, and proxy readings.

Safir approaches these interpretive issues from the perspective that the
structural properties of all natural languages reflect an innate linguistic
capacity, as embodied in Universal Grammar (UG). This monograph explores
the way that a particular syntactic restriction imposed by UG limits the
range of dependent identity interpretations that a sentence can have and
the range of possible entailments it can have on the basis of these
anaphoric interpretations. Although certain of these interpretations may be
favored by manipulating a discourse, the work focuses on interpretive
restrictions that cannot be repaired by discourse accommodation. More
specifically, Safir's main proposal is dependent identity interpretations
are restricted by a c-command prohibition and not by a c-command licensing
condition--that c-command does not license dependencies, but plays a role
in ruling them out. Although cross-linguisitic discussion in the main text
is very limited, Safir adds an appendix on scrambling and reconstruction
that focuses on scrambling in Hindi.

Ken Safir is Professor of Linguistics at Rutgers University.

Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories

Subject Language(s): Hindi (HND)

Written In: English (ENG )

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