Reconstruction: a user’s guide
In this talk I will give a general overview of the topic of “reconstruction” from a syntacticians point of view, particularly with the aim of providing a background to the ways in which issues of reconstruction are relevant to the analysis of relative clauses (and vice versa).
Reconstruction effects in relative clauses have been argued by a number of different researchers to provide evidence for particular variants of a “head-raising” analysis, while the unexpected absence of these effects in certain cases has also been used as the motivation for an alternative “matching” analysis. In this talk I will explore these claims, in particular investigating the extent to which expected correlations between different reconstruction effects (“trapping effects”) are observed in relative clauses. If time permits, I will also present current joint work with Gary Thoms (Edinburgh) in which we propose to derive the restricted occurrence of trapping effects in relatives from a particular view of how noun phrases are constructed.
Specificational sentences: questions, equations, and inversion.
Specificational sentences can be divided into two major subtypes: “cleft” (What he bought was a bucket and a spade) and “noncleft” (His initial purchase was a bucket and a spade”). As argued originally by Higgins (1973), both types share a number of intriguing semantic and syntactic properties, including what appear to be an unusually wide range of “reconstruction” effects. Or do they really share these properties? In this talk I will discuss the main approaches to the peculiarities of specificational sentences, and argue that while dissociating the two subtypes gives us the best results, it leaves us with a persistent mystery.
How to reach agreement (sometimes even with another person)
Copular clauses present some surprising intra- and interlinguistic variation in their agreement properties. Perhaps the best-known is the difference between Italian and English in the choice of agreement controller in specificational sentences like “The culprit is me / Il colpevole sono io”). It turns out that even within Germanic there is an intriguing and complex range of variation in the way agreement is resolved in copular sentences. In this presentation – largely drawing on current joint work with Jutta Hartmann (Tübingen) – I will argue that these striking but until now largely ignored data can provide new insight into both the morphosyntax of agreement and perhaps also the syntax/semantics of “equation”.