Article published in:Bare Plurals, Indefinites, and Weak–Strong Distinction
Edited by Svetlana Vogeleer
[Belgian Journal of Linguistics 19] 2005
► pp. 29–57
On Existential Bare Plural ‘Subjects’
They Don’t Exist!
Drawing on Strawson’s (1971) definition of the subject as performing the function of identifying the object of the speaker’s assertion and of the predicate as applying to this object without having to identify it, this article argues that being a predicate and being (part of) the focus are two ways of talking about one and the same thing, namely assertion, and not identification or presupposition. Assuming that syntax and semantics are isomorphic, the most far-reaching consequence of this view and the central claim that I make is that there are no existential bare plural subjects. What is generally and a priori taken to be an existential bare plural subject is a (wh-moved) predicate nominal. The genuine external argument in sentences with existential bare plurals in what appears to be the subject position is in fact the Davidsonian event argument. Consequently, the Extended Projection Principle (EPP) should be defined as a requirement on predication. The syntax-semantics isomorphism is emphasized as part of an attempt to show that syntactically, generic and existential bare plurals differ with respect to the D-feature: while generic bare plurals are DPs with a morphologically null D, existential bare plurals, like bare singulars, are NPs altogether lacking a D-projection.
Published online: 10 May 2006
Cited by 3 other publications
Ionin, Tania, Elaine Grolla & Hélade Santos
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