No Control in Partial Control: The Referential pro Hypothesis in Brazilian Portuguese
26 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2021 Last revised: 1 May 2021
Date Written: May 3, 2017
Although inflected infinitives and partial control structures in Portuguese have already been the subject of much debate, a statistically tested reanalysis of their characteristics and distribution reveals two key results, one theoretical and another methodological. First, it is not syntactic control but rather pragmatics that is responsible for the phenomena described as partial control in Brazilian Portuguese. In other words, these structures may not be interpreted through a control module at all, but rather through the pragmatic interpretation of a free referential pronoun (pro) in the subject position of these embedded clauses. This better predicts the distribution of partial control structures and their available interpretations. Second, these new experimentally obtained and statistically verified findings contradict much-cited grammaticality judgements, which have unfortunately served as evidence for and against specific syntactic proposals, demonstrating the need for adopting more rigorous empirical and statistical methodologies. The proposed Referential pro Hypothesis (RPH) may explain the discrepancies between previously published judgements and the elicited results.
Keywords: Syntax, Partial Control, Brazilian Portuguese, Inflection
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