Nominal Modification

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Colloquium: Zorica Puškar Gallien

On Tuesday, June 11th, at 4pm in SH 5.105, Zorica Puškar Gallien (ZAS, Berlin) will be giving a talk in the GK colloquium.

Title: Disassembling and reassembling pronouns


Looking at personal pronouns in the Slavic family, local-person (1st and 2nd person) can be taken to differ from 3rd person in the following respects: (i) local-person pronouns have a unique form for every person+number combination (ii) 3rd person pronouns have an invariable base, to which affixes for gender and number are added; (iii) these suffixes are the typical affixes found on nouns as well. Moreover, despite lacking overt gender distinctions, local-person pronouns control gender agreement, indicating that (natural) gender must also be a part of their feature inventory. The goal of this talk is to provide a unified model of the form, locus and function of phi-features of pronouns that will account for their morphological distinctions and agreement properties.

Following recent proposals that assume that phi- and case-feature hierarchies can be structurally encoded, I will argue that pronouns comprise a base and an extended projection that encodes their respective features. Specifically, pronouns are based on a silent NP (i.e. an nP base cf. van Urk 2018; building on Postal 1969; Déchaine and Wiltschko 2002; Elbourne 2005), which differs from the nominal base in lacking a lexical root (Moskal 2015, Smith et al. 2018). This base is also the locus of natural gender and number features. Person, number and (grammatical) gender are encoded by separate projections, whose order is fixed, but they can be present or absent, thus becoming a potential source for variation. Thus what unifies local-person and 3rd person pronouns is that they all lack a lexical root; however what differentiates them (in Slavic) is that local-person pronouns bear person and number, while 3rd person pronouns lack person, but have grammatical gender instead.

I will discuss some consequences of this approach: (i) 3rd person pronouns resemble nouns in spelling out their base separately from the projections bearing the phi-features; (ii) local-person pronouns spell out the entire extended projection (modulo case) together; (iii) the different spell-out domains impose different locality restrictions on allomorphy; (iv) no gender impoverishment is needed with local person (contra Nevins 2011, Parrott 2015): the presence of natural gender on the base makes it a viable Goal for Agree.


Déchaine, Rose-Marie and Martina Wiltschko (2002): ‘Decomposing pronouns‘, Linguistic Inquiry 33(3), 409–442.

Elbourne, Paul (2005): Situations and individuals. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Moskal, Beata (2015): ‘Limits on allomorphy: A case study in nominal suppletion‘, Linguistic Inquiry 46(2), 363–375.

Nevins, Andrew (2011a): ‘Marked targets versus tarked triggers and impoverishment of the dual’, Linguistic Inquiry 42(3), 413–444.

Parrott, Jeffrey (2015): Gender Impoverishment in Czech, Slavic, and beyond. In: M. Ziková, P. Caha and M. Dočekal, eds, Slavic Languages in the Perspective of Formal Grammar; Proceedings of FDSL 10.5, Brno 2014. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main.

Smith, Peter .W., Beata Moskal , Ting Xu, Jungmin Kang and Jonathan David Bobaljik (2018): ‘Case and Number Suppletion in Pronouns’,  Natural language and Linguistic Theory.

van Urk, Coppe (2018): ‘Pronoun copying in Dinka and the Copy Theory of Movement’, Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 36(3), 937–990.

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