2004
Volume 18, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1384-5845
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1171

Abstract

What is explanation, and what is there to explain in linguistics? I take the reader on a small excursion into explanation, and to puzzles in linguistics that fascinate me. For instance, we as linguists are so used to the existence of conditions on binding. Yet, in this contribution I ask readers to do a small step back and wonder why there would be conditions on binding at all. And if so, why would they have to be special? Any approach to binding will have to face the challenge of the daunting diversity of surface manifestations of binding patterns. Taking the variation between Dutch, Frisian and English as a starting point I show that our standard binding conditions don’t in fact constitute a unitary phenomenon. Rather, they result from the interplay between different factors, in part not even specific to language: properties of predicates, our general inability to handle identicals in a space with insufficient structure, properties of chains, and general economy conditions. As I show, it is on the basis of such a deconstruction of the binding conditions into component factors that the unity underlying the diversity can be uncovered, and the curious patterns we find explained.

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  • Article Type: Research Article
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