Pronoun movement and probe generosity
Steven Foley, Maziar Toosarvandani
October 2018

If elements move to satisfy the needs of a probe, as in a theory of attraction, why can more than one element move? Looking at clitic pronouns, we advance a view of this probe generosity motivated by the same economy considerations underlying the Principle of Minimal Compliance (Richards 1997, 1998): once the probe has its needs satisfied by the highest goal, as locality requires, it is free to interact with other goals just in case they would not have done a better job of satisfying those needs. This accounts for a particularly rich system of pronominal cliticization in several Sierra Zapotec languages (Oto-Manguean: Oaxaca), in which movement is restricted both by the Person–Case Constraint (PCC; Perlmutter 1971, Bonet 1991) and by hierarchy-sensitive constraints based on gender. It allows also for a principled understanding of the attested crosslinguistic variation in what might be called, more generally, Phi–Case Constraints (ΦCCs). These form a tightly constrained typology, whose highly asymmetrical shape derives from the cyclic probing enabled by economy-driven probe generosity.
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Reference: lingbuzz/004267
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keywords: pronouns, movement, pcc, person-case constraint, gender, animacy, person, economy, principle of minimal compliance, multiple wh-movement, cyclicity, morphology, syntax
previous versions: v1 [October 2018]
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