Probes, pronouns and binding in the Minimalist Program

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


In chapter 2, I claim that not only heads, but phrases, too, are probes. I show that there are in fact no theoretical and empirical problems involved if we abandon the stipulation that only heads may probe.

In chapter 3, I explore the structure of nominal expressions. The difference we see between reflexives and personal pronouns is argued to be an effect of the syntactic derivation, not of the pronominal root itself. The difference between the two is that in a pronominal DP (and an r-expression) the root pronoun is merged to the category forming head N. This head (or other heads higher in the projection, but crucially lower than D) has phi-features with values. Consequently, any DP with an embedded N will be `self sufficient', except for case. In the reflexive DP, on the other hand, the pronominal root is merged to the functional head D0. This head has phi-features, but without values. Consequently, any DP without an N will require a relation to a another syn-tactic object that has values for these features. This valuation of features corresponds to a syntactically bound variable relation between an antecedent and a reflexive. The actual morphophonological form of the DPs is determined by post-syntactic processes after the narrow syntax, as described in the framework of Distributed Morphology.

In chapter 4, we look at previous approaches to the binding problem.

In chapter 5, I show that the results from chapters 2 and 3 can be fruitfully com-bined. I also show that non-local distribution of coreferential DPs seems to be non-syntactic, or at least of a different syntactic nature. I present arguments for not treating phenomena falling under GB's Principle C as syntactic in nature. It seems the Agree approach to reflexives developed in this thesis successfully distinguishes between the local inter-pretation and distribution of reflexive and non-reflexive DPs. This makes it possible to eliminate the Binding Principles altogether. In conclusion, without any extra theoretical assumptions the data that the Binding Principles in GB-theory covered can be incorporated in the MP. In addition we get an ex-planation to why reflexives have to be in a relation with an antecedent,and why there is phi-agreement be-tween reflexives (bound variables) and their antecedents. Also, the fact that some languages allow r-ex-pressions as bound var-iables can be incorporated in the analysis proposed here. The distribution of nominal ex-pressions is governed by independent syntactic operations; probing, and feature checking. Consequently, we can eliminate the Binding Principles as syntactic principles.


  • Fredrik Heinat
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Languages and Literature


  • Grammar, probes, agree, pronouns, distributed morphology, syntax, minimalims, semantics, semiotics, Grammatik, semantik, semiotik
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2006 Apr 1
Print ISBNs978-91-628-6744-7
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2006-04-01 Time: 10:15 Place: Humanisthusets hörsal, Språk- och litteraturcentrum, Helgonabacken 12, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Adger, David Title: Dr. Affiliation: Queen Mary University of London ---