First Person Readings of MAN: On semantic and pragmatic restrictions on an impersonal pronoun

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Cinque (1988) notices that Italian impersonal si can be interpreted so as to include the speaker and that such a reading is actually mandatory in certain contexts. A similar conclusion holds for impersonal man in a language such as Swedish, with the difference that, in the relevant contexts, man takes on the reading of 1st person singular, hence ‘I’ and not ‘we’. In this paper, I argue that Cinque’s observation can only be understood in a theory explaining how impersonal readings (generic and existential) are restricted, rather than in a general theory of “inclusiveness”. The first part of paper is dedicated to showing how impersonal readings are restricted by the temporal and aspectual specification of the clause. This part summarizes some by now well-known facts concerning the interpretation of man. The second part of the paper discusses a further restriction on impersonal readings, stemming from focus and contrastiveness. The relevant effect is shown in cases of topicalization
of SELF-anaphora in impersonal constructions in some Germanic languages.
To my knowledge, these data have so far gone unobserved in the literature.
Titel på värdpublikationOrder and structure in syntax II
Undertitel på värdpublikationSubjecthood and argument structure
RedaktörerMichelle Sheehan, Laura Bailey
FörlagLanguage Science Press
Antal sidor16
ISBN (tryckt)978-3-96110-028-6
StatusPublished - 2018

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Jämförande språkvetenskap och lingvistik


  • Impersonal pronoun
  • Genericity
  • Scandinavian
  • Self-anaphora


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