Linguistics and English Language

Linguistic Circle

Speaker: Gennaro Chierchia (Harvard University)

Title: Getting Crossover: An accessibility paradox

Abstract: Weak crossover, illustrated in the paradigm in (1) still constitutes largely a mystery.


a.  ?? Hisi manager interviewed every employeei

b. * who1 did  [his1 father fire t1 ]?

c. i. Q: Which person does no one ever have dinner with?

 A: His undertaker.

 ii. Q: Which person has dinner with no one?

A: * His undertaker.

d. i. Q: Which extra guest did everyone bring along?

A: John brought Sue, Mary brought Bill,, ...

ii. Q: Which of those people brought every guest?

A: * John brought Sue, Mary brought Bill, ...

To the familiar data set in (1) one ought to add the following even more puzzling (novel?) observation:


a. John wonders whoi his fired fired and whether hei was going lodge a complain

b. Whenever John finds out whoi his father hired hei has to get in touch with him

Who in (2) can antecede pronouns even outside of its C-command domain (hei); but it still cannot provide an antecedent for a pronoun in a crossover configuration. This looks prima facie paradoxical: if who in (2) is associated with an active Discourse Referent, why can’t it antecede the pronoun his? These data points vividly illustrate the complexity of the output of our spontaneous algorithms for anaphora.

I will explore how a mix of event based semantics and a dynamic take on anaphora may shed light on both the long standing puzzles (1) and the novel data point in (2).

Contact details

Ivo Youmerski

Feb 20 2020 -

Linguistic Circle

2020-02-20: Getting Crossover: An accessibility paradox

Lecture Theatre 5, Appleton Tower, 11 Crichton Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9LE