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Case Theory, Dp Movement, and Interpretation: A New Approach to the Distribution of French Subnominal Clitic en

Abstract

This article proposes a new solution to an old problem in the syntax of French, namely the contrast in grammaticality observed with the two clitics en (genitive and quantitative) when used with raised subjects. I propose that the contrast observed in these contexts should be explained by Case theory, and show that a Case-theoretic approach is superior to an ECP/Binding approach in accounting for the distribution of en in a variety of contexts, including similar contexts in Italian and Catalan. I argue that Case is a feature of the nominal head (N) of a DP, that Case may be checked in configurations other than [Spec, head], and that there is no need for features such as Nominative or Accusative, [+/− Case] being sufficient. The proposal has consequences for Case theory and for checking theory in general. More generally the article is a contribution to the understanding of phenomena that used to be understood in terms of the Empty Category Principle (ECP). It exemplifies how properties of the internal structure of moved elements can explain their distribution.

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Correspondence to Marie-Claude Boivin.

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This paper is a revised version of the second chapter of my Ph.D. dissertation (Boivin 1999b). Earlier stages of some parts of this work have been presented in Boivin (1998, 1999a). I would like to thank Elena Anagnostopoulou, Noam Chomsky, Danny Fox, Marie Labelle, Alec Marantz, David Pesetsky and Jean-Yves Pollock for their comments at various stages of this work, as well as two anonymous NLLT reviewers. This work was supported in part by SSHRCC postdoctoral fellowship #756-99-0331, held at the Université du Québec à Montréal.

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Boivin, MC. Case Theory, Dp Movement, and Interpretation: A New Approach to the Distribution of French Subnominal Clitic en. Nat Lang Linguist Theory 23, 543–593 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11049-005-0899-1

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Keywords

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Internal Structure
  • Similar Context
  • Case Theory
  • Category Principle