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Why the Binding Theory Doesn't Apply at LF

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This article argues that the relegation of the binding theory to the C-I interface (LF) is theoretically undesirable and empirically unwarranted. Recent minimalist research has sought to eliminate the binding theory from UG by reducing its conditions to narrow-syntactic operations ( Hornstein 2000, 2006; Reuland 2001, 2006; Kayne 2002; Zwart 2002, 2006; Hicks 2006). This approach remains controversial since the canonical minimalist binding theory ( Chomsky 1993; Chomsky & Lasnik 1993) views the binding conditions as interpretive rules applying at LF, supported by evidence that condition A interacts with other interpretive phenomena assumed to be determined at LF ( Lebeaux 1998; Fox & Nissenbaum 2004). While the interaction of anaphor binding and scope relations in particular is not disputed, I show that it is attributable to factors outside the binding theory, namely the requirement that variables (including anaphors) must be c-commanded by their binders at LF. Deprived of its strongest empirical argument, the LF binding theory can then be picked apart.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The University of Southampton Department of Modern Languages Avenue Campus SO17 1BJ United Kingdom, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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