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Open Access Standard Modern and Pontic Greek Person Restrictions: A Feature-Free Dynamic Account

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Standard Modern and Pontic Greek Person Restrictions: A Feature-Free Dynamic Account

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In this paper, using new evidence from Pontic Greek (PG) in addition to Standard Modern Greek, we argue that the Person Case Constraint (PCC), generally presumed to be an irreducible morphosyntactic constraint on clitic pronoun combinations and argued by several to provide evidence of feature-driven syntactic operations, is a direct consequence of processing considerations, these new data being inexplicable under any of the current feature-driven analyses (Anagnostopoulou 2003, 2005; Béjar & Rezac 2003; Bianchi 2006; Adger & Harbour 2007; Nevins 2007; Pescarini 2010 among others). Adopting the Dynamic Syntax (DS) perspective of Cann et al. (2005), in which syntax is defined as the monotonic incremental growth of semantic structure, with structural underspecification and update as the core syntactic notion, we argue that the PCC is wholly due to restrictions on tree-growth imposed by the logic of finite trees: that these should underpin observed gaps in possible clitic combinations is due to clitics being calcified reflexes of previously available tree-growth update-sequences whose variability is the source of word order variation. More specifically, we argue that PCC effects, including the problematic PG data, are the consequence of a tree-logic restriction that only one unfixed node can be present in a tree at any stage in the tree growth process. PG, a dialect in which no 3rd person clitic clusters are allowed, provides strong evidence for such a feature-free account. Contrary to current feature-based analyses, which would preclude such data, the analysis presented here is shown to directly predict the Pontic Greek data, thus pointing towards a feature-free account of the PCC.


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