Null Complement Anaphora cannot involve transitivity alternations: A novel argument from Mayan
Rodrigo Ranero, Justin Royer
November 2023

We propose a novel morphosyntactic argument that supports one analysis of the silent element in the construction known as Null Complement Anaphora (NCA). Specifically, we argue on the basis of data from Chuj (Mayan) that the missing verbal complement in NCA is simplex and syntactically active, providing new support for the classic analysis of NCA as a "deep anaphor" (Hankamer and Sag 1976; see Depiante 2001, 2019; Moulton 2013; Tyler 2022). The data are difficult (if not impossible) to capture under analyses that propose instead that NCA involves a transitivity alternation (Shopen 1972, 1973; Williams 1977; Grimshaw 1979; Napoli 1983, 1985; Saeboe 1996; Xiang et al. 2019). In a nutshell, we contend that Chuj’s rich morphological marking, which encodes transitivity in multiple ways, reveals the universal syntax of NCA. This underlying syntax is not detectable in languages that have previously served as the empirical basis for arguing about the representation of NCA. We end by discussing (a) why the crosslinguistic implications of the Chuj facts should be interpreted in the strongest fashion possible—i.e., as reflecting the universal syntax of NCA—and (b) why a different conclusion that would take the syntax of NCA to be parameterized is not desirable. In other words, we argue that a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) approach cannot be maintained for NCA in other languages either. Methodologically, then, we provide an illustration of how a well-controlled set of facts from an understudied language can open the door for a reappraisal on the representation of one flavor of silent syntax.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/007724
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Submitted
keywords: nca, ellipsis, wysiwyg, deep anaphora, surface anaphora, syntax, mayan, chuj, morphology, syntax
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