Semantic Differences between Null Pronouns and Overt Pronouns


Kang, Nam-Kil

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This paper is devoted to the semantic behavior of null pronouns and overt pronouns. As observed earlier, both overt pronouns and null pronouns in Korean can take split antecedents. Such a fact suggests that Korean has two types of pronouns allowing split antecedents. Likewise, English pronouns, Korean overt pronouns, and Korean null pronouns with respect to demonstrative uses exhibit the same property. As for BVA, however, null pronouns do not behave like overt pronouns. The former induces a bound variable interpretation, but the latter may not. When it comes to the indirect/ direct test, Korean null pronouns attribute a direct thought like English PRO, whereas Korean overt pronouns attribute an indirect thought of the sort associated with English pronouns. Another peculiar property of null pronouns and overt pronouns is observed within opaque contexts. In this case, only the former gives rise to a de re thought, a thought that the speaker has about himself. Korean overt pronouns and null pronouns can also be E-type. Nonetheless, E-type overt pronouns and null pronouns differ in their definiteness. Finally, Korean null pronouns show characteristics similar to one in English, whereas overt pronouns present characteristics similar to the definite pronoun it. In conclusion, these semantic differences between overt pronouns and null pronouns seem to suggest that a null pronoun is not the genuine null counterpart of an overt pronoun in Korean.


I. Introduction
 II. Semantic Differences Between Overt Pronouns and Null Pronouns
  2.1. A Split Antecedent Test
  2.2. A Free/ Discriminating Test
  2.3. A Bound Variable Interpretation Test
  2.4. An Indirect/ Direct Thought Test
  2.5. A De Re Thought Test
  2.6. An E-type Test
  2.7. An Indefinite/Definite Anaphora Test
 III. Conclusion
 Works Cited


  • Kang, Nam-Kil 강남길. Far East University


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