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University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics

Abstract

Sheehan (2012, 2014) observes that Partial Control (PC) readings arise in Romance (but not in English) only with those embedded collective predicates that can take an overt comitative argument. She argues that this phenomenon, which she calls “fake PC,” arises indirectly from a silent comitative phrase present in the infinitive. Landau (2016a) convincingly shows, however, that her analysis is untenable by pointing out that certain elements associated with overt comitatives are systematically unavailable with PC complements. But if Sheehan’s analysis is untenable, we must now explain why the selective availability exhibited by Romance embedded predicates is not also present in English. In this paper, we claim first that there is no such thing as “fake PC,” that is, there is only one kind of PC and this phenomenon is subject to the same conditions in English as it is in Romance; second, that one such condition is that the embedded collective predicate have symmetric reciprocal semantics in the sense of Siloni 2002, 2012 and Dimitriadis 2004, 2008; and third, that the difference between English and Romance boils down to the fact that only reciprocals formed in the lexicon introduce symmetric semantics and that the set of reciprocals formed in the lexicon in English and that formed in the lexicon in Romance are not identical. Additionally, we explore the consequences of these differences for the theory of PC. Specifically, we show that Landau’s (2016a,b) characterization of PRO in PC as a group-denoting, syntactically singular but semantically plural pronoun cannot explain the fact that it can only be the subject of symmetric predicates and we also discuss another shortcoming of his approach tied to the mismatch between the morphological and semantic values on PC PRO exhibited by French.

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