The German Definite Article and the ‘Sameness’ of Indices

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University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics
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Hanink, Emily A.

The German definite article may contract with a preceding preposition under certain circumstances; the contracted form is referred to in the literature as weak, while the non-contracted form is referred to as strong. Schwarz (2009) gives an analysis of this contrast according to which the weak form is required when the referent of an NP is unique, while the strong form is required when it is also anaphoric, i.e., when it refers back to an antecedent. However, as Schwarz himself points out, anaphoric uses in which the anaphoric NP is modified by the adjective same surprisingly surface with the weak form, and not the strong. The use of the weak form with the clearly anaphoric uses of same pose a challenge to the generalization that anaphoric uses of the definite article always require the strong form. I provide an account of the strong/weak distinction in the German definite article that explains the puzzling use of the weak form in anaphora involving same by proposing the following. P-D contraction in the general case is achieved through P-D Lowering (Embick and Noyer 2001). In the strong form however, D selects for the index-hosting head idx, to which it may lower and bleed the environment for P-D contraction. However, D may optionally not lower to idx, in which case P-D contraction freely occurs while idx spells out as same. Same in this account is therefore treated as an allomorph of an otherwise non-exponed anaphora-encoding head that is usually occupied by D. This account draws support from cross-linguistic evidence from English and Hebrew that same may undergo alternations with pronominal expressions.

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