chapter  11
19 Pages

Pronouns and the Edge of the Clause

The ultimate aim of the following pages is to explore the hypothesis that sentences containing a pronoun can be analyzed as involving a topic-pronoun doubling relation in a way that closely parallels the one overtly realized in CLLD and HT structures in Italian/Romance.1 In a nutshell: when a pronoun is present in the clause, a silent doubled non-overt topic, a pronoun as well, can be assumed to be present at the edge of the clause. Hence, presence of a pronoun implies presence of a silent pronominal topic. Some principles of non-pronounceability of the edge of the clause along the lines proposed in Kayne (2005a) and Rizzi (2005, 2006a), account for lack of the overt realization of the topic. In this respect, the hypothesis shares signicant similarities with the analysis proposed in Rizzi (2005, 2006a) for German cases of topic-drop of the kind illustrated in (1) (Ross 1982; Cardinaletti 1990), and is very much in the spirit of Huang’s (1984) analysis of Chinese zero objects:

(1) a. (Ich) habe es gestern gekauft (I) have it yesterday bought b. (Das) habe ich-gestern gekauft (That) have I yesterday bought

The proposal developed here ultimately aims at making explicit one possible mechanism through which a pronoun looks for its antecedent: Reaching the CP edge from where, as a kind of probe, it looks for the appropriate available referential DP to which it can connect. It may be argued that one possible general impact of this proposal is that if a mechanism of this sort is indeed at work, one of the essential requirements of classical principle B of the binding theory may follow as a direct consequence.2 The antecedent of a pronoun is necessarily external to the CP containing the pronoun, as a pronoun, doubled, in the core cases discussed here, necessarily looks outside the CP edge.3