Chinese Reflexive : Syntactic Reflexives vs. Nonsyntactic Reflexives*Ziji: Syntactic Reflexives vs. Nonsyntactic Reflexives*

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Abstract

While recognizing a fundamental distinction between syntactic use of reflexives and nonsyntactic use of reflexives, we propose that this distinction is not necessarily one of lexical ambiguity, contrary to what has been commonly assumed (e.g., Baker (1995)). Instead, we posit just one type of referentially dependent element – reflexives – which avail themselves of two options for being related to their antecedents, namely, syntactic binding and discourse coreference. We focus on Chinese reflexive ziji but will also consider reflexives in American English and British English. Data from these languages indicate that obligatory binding (as stated in Principle A of Chomsky (1986)) is something of a special case and should not be taken as a general model for a cross-linguistic approach to reflexives. We also show that argument structure is relevant to long-distance binding in Chinese, and thus the syntactic binding domain can be defined in terms of relative OBLIQUENESS of grammatical relations rather than a purely tree-configurational relation, e.g., C-COMMAND.

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