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Frits Beukema; University of Leiden

 

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This paper supports the claim that the autonomy-of-syntax thesis must be given up in favour of a model in which the computational system is allowed to interface with discourse-related phenomena in order to arrive at a complete interpretation. The evidence for this claim is derived mainly from the area of pronominal reference, an area of crucial interest for the interface discussion since pronouns are elements subject to variable interpretations, so that utterances containing them cannot be interpreted merely in terms of their truth-conditional semantics. I first discuss the pro-drop parameter and its putative interaction with pragmatics. I then turn to overt pronouns and their characterisation in Government & Binding theory. The various types of pronouns are discussed, and it is concluded that, contrary to what is implied by Principle B of the Binding Theory, the class of pronouns is non-unitary. Definite NPs behave similarly, so that both classes are basically ambiguous, with an in-built appeal to discourse factors. More evidence is drawn from the area of presupposition and quantifier-variable binding. The final section contains some speculations regarding the relation between language and thought.

 

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