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Structure of PERSON

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2020. Agree to Agree: Agreement in the Minimalist Programme: 425–461. Eds. Katharina Hartmann, Johannes Mursell and Peter W. Smith. Open Generative Syntax series. Language Science Press, Berlin.

This paper tackles the fundamental question of what an anaphor actually is — and asks whether the label “anaphor” even carves out a homogenous class of element in grammar. While most theories are in agreement that an anaphor is an element that is referentially deficient in some way, the question of how this might be en-coded in terms of deficiency for syntactic features remains largely unresolved. The conventional wisdom is that anaphors lack some or more φ-features. A less main-stream view proposes that anaphors are deficient for features that directly target reference. Here, I present different types of empirical evidence from a range of languages to argue that neither approach gets the full range of facts quite right. The role of person, in particular, seems to be privileged. Some anaphors wear the empirical properties of a person-defective nominal; yet others, however, are sensitive to person-restrictions in a way that indicates that they are inherently specified for person. Orthogonal to these are anaphors whose distribution seems to be regulated, not by φ-features at all, but by perspective-sensitivity. Anaphors must, then, not be created equal, but be distinguished along featural classes. This then has direct implications for how person is categorized and represented in grammar. I delineate what this looks like against a binary feature system for person enriched with a privative [sentience] feature. The current model is shown to make accurate empirical predictions for anaphors that are insensitive to person-asymmetries for the PCC, animacy effects for anaphoric agreement, and instances of non-matching for number and person.

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