A linearization account of either … or constructions
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- Hofmeister, P. Nat Lang Linguist Theory (2010) 28: 275. doi:10.1007/s11049-010-9090-4
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To account for the linear freedom of either in disjunction constructions, I expand upon the focus-based account of den Dikken (2006). Word order constraints, in contrast to movement rules or base-generation constraints, provide the mechanism for explaining the distributional data. I argue that all positional variability exhibited by either ultimately derives from a licensing construction that enables either to be shuffled about disjunct-internally, yet simultaneously prevents either from entering into linear precedence relations with disjunct-external constituents. Restrictions on the surface realization of either result from a linear precedence rule ordering either before the contrastive focus, language particular constraints on word order, and general constraints on coordinate ellipsis. Overall, this analysis presents an account of either … or constructions that introduces only a single linear precedence rule and a licensing construction for combining either with disjunctions to account for the data, relying on independently-motivated constraints to carry the rest of the analytical burden.