1 Introduction

Wilkinson (1971) and Lawler (1972) originally observed the phenomenon of partial control (PC). Descriptively, PC refers to situations in which the reference of PRO must include that of an overt argument in the matrix clause, but is not exhaustively determined by that argument. The effects of PC are best observed in sentences like (1a), which contain an infinitival whose predicate is unambiguously collective (i.e., one that requires, rather than just allows, its subject to denote a plural entity; cf. (1b)).

(1)

  • a.

    Clairej wanted [PROj+ to meet at 6:00/PROj+ to kiss in the kitchen].

  • b.

    The lovers/*Claire met/kissed in the kitchen.

Most of the research on PC has focused on the (semantic) properties of those matrix predicates that license the phenomenon (see, e.g., Landau 2000, White and Grano 2013 for a survey and experimental data, as well as Pearson 2016). One notable exception to this trend is provided by Sheehan (2012, 2014), who observes that PC in European Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, and French displays a selective availability based on what kind of collective predicate appears in the embedded infinitival containing PRO.1 Specifically, she points out that the descriptive generalization in (2) seems to hold.

(2) PC readings arise in Romance only with those embedded collective predicates that can take an overt comitative argument.

Thus, French se réunir ‘meet/gather’ can take an overt comitative argument but s’embrasser ‘kiss/hug’ cannot, and, as a result, only the former can occur in a PC infinitival.2

(3)

  • a.

    Eric s’est réuni avec ses amis.

    Eric SE-is met with his friends

    ‘Eric met with his friends.’

  • b.

    Ericj voulait [PROj+ se réunir dans la cuisine].

    Eric wanted SE meet in the kitchen

    ‘Eric wanted to meet in the kitchen.’

(4)

  • a.

    *Eric s’est embrassé avec Nadine.

    Eric SE-is kissed with Nadine

    ‘*Eric kissed with Nadine.’

  • b.

    *Ericj voulait [PROj+ s’embrasser dans la cuisine].

    Eric wanted SE-kiss in the kitchen

    ‘Eric wanted to kiss in the kitchen.’

Since the generalization in (2) does not seem to apply to English (see the English glosses in (4)), Sheehan calls examples like (3b) instances of “fake PC” and argues that this distinct phenomenon arises indirectly from a silent comitative phrase present in the infinitival complement (as Hornstein (2003) and others have proposed is the case in all languages). Landau (2016a) convincingly shows, however, that Sheehan’s analysis of PC in Romance is untenable by pointing out that elements syntactically and/or semantically associated with overt comitatives are systematically unavailable with PC complements. For example, while an adverb like séparément ‘separately’ can modify an overt comitative (5a), it fails to occur in those PC complements alleged to have a null comitative structure (5b).

(5)

  • a.

    Le Président a dit à ses homologues des E-U

    the president has said to his counterparts of.the US

    et de la Russie qu’il préférait se réunir avec

    and of the Russia that-he preferred SE meet with

    eux séparément.

    them separately

    ‘The president told his US and Russian counterparts that he preferred to meet with them separately.’

  • b.

    Le Président a dit à ses homologues des E-U

    the president has said to his counterparts of.the US

    et de la Russie qu’il préférait se réunir

    and of the Russia that-he preferred SE meet

    (*séparément) avant Noël.

    (separately) before Christmas

    ‘The president told his US and Russian counterparts that he preferred to meet (*separately) before Christmas.’

We add to Landau’s arguments one of our own, one that is based on the observation, due to Dimitriadis (2004), that the semantics of simple reciprocals enriched with a comitative phrase (also called discontinuous reciprocals) is more specific (or expressive) than that of their corresponding simple reciprocals. Consider in this respect the paradigm in (6).

(6)

  • a.

    Eric, Nadine, et quelqu’un d’autre se sont disputés.

    Eric Nadine and someone else SE are argued

    ‘Eric, Nadine, and someone else argued.’

  • b.

    Eric et Nadine se sont disputés avec quelqu’un

    Eric and Nadine SE are argued with someone

    d’autre.

    else

    ‘Eric and Nadine argued with someone else.’

As Dimitriadis points out, a sentence like (6a) describes a quarreling event involving Eric, Nadine, and someone else with no specification as to who was in conflict with whom. The interpretation of the discontinuous reciprocal construction in (6b), on the other hand, is more specific in that it expresses a reciprocal relation between pairs consisting of one participant (possibly plural) taken from the denotation of the subject and another participant taken from the denotation of the comitative phrase. Thus, (6b) is either about a disagreement involving Eric and Nadine versus someone else, or about two separate conflicts, one involving Eric versus someone else and another involving Nadine versus that someone else. Consider next the sentence in (7) on the PC reading symbolized by the indices.

(7)

  • [Eric et Nadine]j se rappellent [PROj+ s’être

  • Eric and Nadine SE remember SE-to.be

  • disputés].

  • argued

  • ‘Eric and Nadine remember arguing.’

On the assumption that (7) contains a null comitative phrase, we expect the interpretation of that sentence to be akin to that of (6b) in that it should involve pairs whose first member corresponds to the denotation of the controller (i.e., Eric and Nadine) and whose second member corresponds to the denotation of the null comitative. This expectation is not fulfilled, however. Indeed, the PC reading associated with (7) can only be paraphrased as follows: Eric and Nadine remember that there was a quarreling event involving Eric, Nadine, and some other unspecified individual(s) with no specification as to who was in conflict with whom. The fact that (7) cannot have the more specific reading tied to the presence of an overt comitative phrase in (6b) thus provides an additional argument against the presence of a null comitative in PC contexts.

Landau’s (2016a,b) analysis of PC, which does not posit a null comitative phrase but takes PRO in PC to be a group-denoting, syntactically singular but semantically plural noun, is not (directly) challenged by the facts in (5) and (7). However, given the untenable character of Sheehan’s analysis of Romance “fake PC” demonstrated above, neither Landau’s account of PC nor its alternatives can explain why the selective availability of PC exhibited by Romance embedded predicates is not also present in English (see, e.g., (4b) vs. (1a)).

In this squib, we will claim that (a) 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; (b) one such condition is that the embedded collective predicate have (irreducibly) symmetric reciprocal semantics in the sense of Siloni (2002, 2012) and Dimitriadis (2004, 2008); and (c) the difference between English and Romance boils down to the facts 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. The assumption that reciprocal verbs can be formed in different components of the grammar—namely, the lexicon and the syntax—is based on a coherent cluster of distinctive properties (such as degree of productivity) first uncovered by Siloni (2001) and further substantiated by Reinhart and Siloni (2005), who capture the split via a Lex(icon)-Syn(tax) parameter. This parameter states that Universal Grammar allows valence-changing operations to apply either in the lexicon or in the syntax. Following Siloni (2002), we will argue that only lexical reciprocals are symmetric and that French, being a language with a syntactic setting of the Lex-Syn parameter, only has isolated instances of lexical reciprocal verbs. This, as we will demonstrate, is the reason why French has a much more restricted set of PC-inducing embedded predicates than English.

2 Symmetric Reciprocals and Partial Control

English has a restricted set of covert reciprocals such as kiss, meet, hug, embrace, nuzzle (but not, e.g., love, elect, beat, follow) that bear no special morphology and are therefore idiosyncratically marked as reciprocals in the lexicon. Covert reciprocals like (8a) have periphrastic counterparts, which involve pairing the verb with an object reciprocal anaphor (8b).3

(8)

  • a.

    Ron and Sally kissed. (covert, lexical reciprocal)

  • b.

    Ron and Sally kissed each other. (overt, periphrastic reciprocal)

It has been known for some time, however, that English lexical and periphrastic reciprocal constructions are not semantically equivalent (see in particular Leonard and Goodman 1940, Langendoen 1978, and references cited there). That is, in English, only covert lexical reciprocals are symmetric in the sense made explicit in (9), adapted from Siloni 2002, 2008, 2012 and Dimitriadis 2004, 2008.

(9) A reciprocal predicate is symmetric if it expresses a relation between participants that is not based on the accumulation of subevents but is instead based on an atomic event.

While (8b) is vague in being able to refer to an atomic kissing event (with simultaneous participation of Ron and Sally) or to the accumulation of separate kissing events (e.g., Ron kissed Sally on the forehead and then she kissed him on the cheek), (8a) can only refer to a single event with symmetric participation, that is, simultaneous kissing on the lips. This can be shown clearly by means of a test originally developed by Siloni (2002). This test uses count adverbials of the x times type that quantify over the number of events a sentence may denote. Thus, in an English periphrastic reciprocal construction like kiss each other, which is nonsymmetric (i.e., vague with respect to symmetry), a count adverbial can count either the total number of atomic events or the number of subevents attributable to each participant. This is shown in (10a), a sentence that can be interpreted in the two ways expressed by the glosses. However, with the symmetric lexical reciprocal kiss, we can only count events once; hence, (10b) does not display the same counting ambiguity (10a) does.

(10)

  • a.

    Ron and Sally kissed each other three times. (nonsymmetric)

    • i.

      There was a total of three kissing events.

    • ii.

      There were six kissing events: three initiated by Ron and three initiated by Sally.

  • b.

    Ron and Sally kissed three times. (symmetric)

    • i.

      There was a total of three kissing events.

Interestingly, as (11) illustrates, only covert reciprocals can participate in PC in English.

(11) (Ronj told Sally that) hej wanted [PROj+ to meet (*each other) as soon as possible].

This suggests that (a) only those reciprocal verbs that have symmetric semantics are compatible with PC PRO and (b) as originally argued by Siloni (2002) and Dimitriadis (2004), only verbs that have acquired a reciprocal meaning through a lexical (not syntactic) operation have symmetric semantics. If these generalizations are on the right track, we then expect them to extend to (e.g.) French and possibly explain Sheehan’s observation in (2).

Before we turn to the French data, however, we must briefly discuss Landau’s (2000) alternative account of the ungrammaticality of the periphrastic reciprocal option (11). According to Landau, this option is ruled out because (a) the binder of a plural anaphor like each other must be syntactically plural and (b) PRO in PC contexts, being akin to a group-denoting noun like committee, is syntactically singular (though semantically plural) and cannot therefore serve as a binder for the plural anaphor. This approach appears to make a problematic prediction, however. As is well-known, group-denoting nouns can, in those dialects of English spoken in the United Kingdom, serve as antecedents for plural anaphors. This is illustrated in (12).

(12)

  • a.

    %My family always fight with each other.

  • b.

    %By doing this, the government have opened themselves to criticism.

The prediction is therefore that in such dialects, the fact that group-denoting nouns can be syntactically plural should correlate with PC PRO being able to antecede plural anaphors. The data collected from our informants (Nigel Duffield and Ian Roberts) do not, however, support the existence of such a correlation. Indeed, both speakers accept examples like (12) but reject examples like (11) (with the reciprocal anaphor) and (13).4

(13) *The chairj would prefer [PROj+ to consult each other before the vote].

On the other hand, as we will see shortly, there is at least one good reason to adopt the hypothesis that only those reciprocal verbs that have symmetric semantics are compatible with PC PRO: namely, that it can account for the crosslinguistic differences in PC licensing between English and Romance uncovered by Sheehan (2012, 2014).

Turning now to French, the only natural way to express (8) is to combine the reciprocal morpheme se with transitive embrasser ‘kiss’ as in (14).5

(14)

  • Ron et Sally se sont embrassés.

  • Ron and Sally SE are kissed

  • ‘Ron and Sally kissed (each other).’

We first note that a se morpheme with reciprocal meaning can be added to just about any transitive verb, and the productivity of this process immediately suggests that it is syntactic in nature. Furthermore, semantically, the sentence in (14) is akin to (8b) rather than (8a); that is, it is unmarked with respect to symmetry and can therefore describe a nonsymmetric situation, as the possible rejoinder in (15) makes clear.

(15)

  • . . . lui, chastement, sur le front, elle, avec aplomb, sur les lèvres.

  • Lit.: ‘. . . he, chastely, on the forehead, she, boldly, on the lips.’

This is further confirmed by the fact that the reciprocal verb s’embrasser gives rise to the sort of counting ambiguities that arise with the English periphrastic reciprocal kiss each other, as (16) shows.

(16)

  • Ron et Sally se sont embrassés trois fois.

  • Ron and Sally SE are kissed three times

    • i.

      There was a total of three kissing events.

    • ii.

      There were six kissing events; that is, Ron kissed Sally three times and she kissed him back three times.

These observations are, in fact, part of a much larger pattern first uncovered by Siloni (2001) and further substantiated by Reinhart and Siloni (2005) and Siloni (2008, 2012). That is, setting periphrastic reciprocals aside, reciprocal verbs exhibit a number of linguistic properties that cluster in such a way that they can be split into two groups crosslinguistically. In languages like French, Spanish, Serbian, and so on, reciprocalization is a highly productive operation that can target exceptional-case-marking (ECM) predicates (17a) and allows direct objects (17b).

(17)

  • a.

    Aline et Bernard se trouvent plutôt beaux.

    Aline and Bernard SE find rather beautiful

    ‘Aline and Bernard find each other quite good-looking.’

  • b.

    Aline et Bernard s’envoient des poèmes.

    Aline and Bernard SE-send some poems

    ‘Aline and Bernard send poems to each other.’

On the other hand, in languages like English, Russian, Hebrew, and so on, reciprocalization is restricted to a relatively small set of verbs, does not cooccur with direct objects, and never targets ECM predicates. Reinhart and Siloni’s (2005) Lex-Syn parameter ascribes these divergent patterns to the fact that (nonperiphrastic) reciprocalization is a valence-reducing operation whose locus is either the syntax (in, e.g., French, Spanish, Serbian) or the lexicon (in, e.g., English, Russian, Hebrew).

Further, as Dimitriadis (2004) and Siloni (2008, 2012) argue, when reciprocalization applies in the lexicon, it does not have access to subevents resulting from the interaction of a verbal predicate and its arguments, as this type of interaction is syntactically determined. Thus, lexical reciprocals, being denotationally restricted to atomic events, can only convey reciprocal meaning by being symmetric. Syntactic reciprocalization, on the other hand, is an operation that results from merging two distinct elements taken from the lexicon: a verb and the appropriate morphology (se in French). The verb in question must, of course, be a two-place predicate, given the valence-reducing character of the operation, which ties in with Siloni’s (2012) observation that there are no instances of syntactic reciprocal verbs lacking a transitive alternate.

Of course, when reciprocalization applies in the lexicon, it too originally affects a two-place predicate. However, the reciprocal lexical entry thus formed can, like any lexical item, undergo semantic drift over time, acquiring a meaning distinct from the transitive alternate it was originally based on. For example, the English lexical reciprocal kiss can only mean ‘kiss on the lips’ and therefore has a meaning that is more restricted than that of its transitive counterpart (and that of its periphrastic reciprocal counterpart). Similar examples are found in French. Reinhart and Siloni (2005:417n24) point out that in syntactic reciprocal languages like French, there can be instances of lexical reciprocals that constitute a closed set of verbs. Two such cases are discussed by Siloni (2002). These are the semantically ambiguous reciprocal verbs se battre ‘beat each other or quarrel’ and s’entendre ‘hear each other or agree/get along’. The ambiguity, Siloni argues, comes from the fact that such verbs can instantiate syntactic reciprocals with a compositional meaning that is nonsymmetric (i.e., beat each other, hear each other) as well as lexical reciprocals with an idiomatic meaning that is symmetric (i.e., quarrel, agree/get along with each other). As expected, the transitive counterparts of such verbs only match the meaning of the corresponding syntactic reciprocals. This is illustrated in (18) and (19).

(18)

  • a.

    Claire et Annie se sont battues.

    Claire and Annie SE are beat

    ‘Claire and Annie beat each other.’ or ‘Claire and Annie quarreled.’

  • b.

    Claire a battu Annie.

    Claire has beat Annie

    ‘Claire beat Annie.’

(19)

  • a.

    Claire et Annie se sont entendues.

    Claire and Annie SE are heard

    ‘Claire and Annie heard each other.’ or ‘Claire and Annie agreed.’

  • b.

    Claire a entendu Annie.

    Claire has heard Annie

    ‘Claire heard Annie.’

Assuming that PC requires the embedded collective predicate to be symmetric and that only reciprocals formed in the syntax can be nonsymmetric, we then expect English kiss to mean only ‘kiss on the lips’ when it appears in a PC infinitival because only the lexical reciprocal version of kiss is symmetric. This prediction is borne out: a sentence like (20) can only mean that Eric wanted for himself and some other party to be involved in an atomic event of kissing on the lips; it cannot mean that Eric wanted for himself and some other party to exchange kisses on different parts of their bodies.

(20) Ericj wanted [PROj+ to kiss in the kitchen].

Similarly, if the ambiguous reciprocal French verbs in (18a) and (19a) are used in PC infinitives, only the symmetric idiomatic interpretation of these verbs is available, as shown in (21) and (22).

(21)

  • Jej me rappelle [PROj+ m’être battu toute la nuit].

  • I SE remember SE-be fought all the night

  • ‘I remember quarrelling/*beating each other all night.’

(22)

  • a.

    Ilj se rappelle [PROj+ s’être entendu là-dessus]

    he SE remembers SE-be heard thereupon (avant de signer le contrat).

    (before of to.sign the contract)

    ‘He remembers agreeing on this ( prior to signing the contract).’

  • b.

    *Ilj se rappelle [PROj+ s’être entendu à travers

    he SE remembers SE-be heard at through

    le mur de sa chambre].

    the wall of his bedroom

    ‘He remembers hearing one another through his bedroom wall.’

Finally, as Siloni (2008) observes, the main factor that determines the availability of a discontinuous reciprocal construction (i.e., a reciprocal with a comitative argument) is whether the reciprocal predicate it is based on is a lexical entry rather than the output of a syntactic operation.6 We illustrate this observation with the ambiguous s’entendre ‘hear each other or agree/get along’, which, as (23b) shows, can only have the symmetric idiomatic interpretation when used in the discontinuous construction.

(23)

  • a.

    Paul et son père s’entendaient mal.

    Paul and his father SE-heard poorly

    ‘Paul and his father got along poorly.’ (lexical reciprocal)

    ‘Paul and his father could barely hear each other.’ (syntactic reciprocal)

  • b.

    Paul s’entendait mal avec son père.

    Paul SE-heard poorly with his father

    ‘Paul got along poorly with his father.’

Thus, only lexical reciprocals, which entail a symmetric event, may partake in the discontinuous reciprocal construction and, since lexical reciprocals are the only reciprocals that can be predicated of PC PRO, we end up with Sheehan’s (2012, 2014) descriptive generalization in (2), repeated here as (24).

(24) PC readings arise in Romance only with those embedded collective predicates that can take an overt comitative argument.

The overall picture that emerges for French is that partial control is only possible with symmetric embedded reciprocals, those being a rather small subset of reciprocal predicates that license the discontinuous construction and do not have a transitive counterpart (at least not one with the same denotation). This small subset includes the following verbs:7

(25) se rassembler ‘gather’, se réunir ‘meet’, s’entretenir ‘converse’, s’associer ‘form a partnership’, se caramboler ‘collide’, se télescoper ‘slam into each other’, se mettre d’accord ‘agree’, s’accorder ‘see eye to eye’, s’arranger ‘come to an arrangement’, se réconcilier ‘reconcile’, s’entendre ‘get along’, s’accoupler ‘mate’, s’accrocher ‘clash’, se battre ‘argue’, s’engueler ‘have a row’, se quereller ‘quarrel’, se batailler ‘have a fight’, se disputer ‘have an argument’, se chicaner ‘bicker’, se chamailler ‘squabble’

3 Consequences for the Theory of Control

As stated earlier, the majority of the present approaches to PC focus on predicting the class of control (matrix) verbs that create the proper environment for PRO to take on a PC reading. It is therefore unclear how such approaches could handle the symmetry constraint on those reciprocal predicates that take PC PRO as their subject discussed in this squib.8 One potential exception is the theory of PC proposed by Landau (2016a,b). Landau’s theory takes PRO in PC to be a group-denoting, syntactically singular, but semantically plural noun, and it therefore seems worthwhile to explore the question of whether this characterization of PC PRO suffices to explain the fact that it can only be the subject of symmetric reciprocal predicates. In what follows, we discuss evidence suggesting that this is not the case.

An important distinction between group nouns and PC PRO was already pointed out in section 2: in (at least some) English dialects spoken in the United Kingdom, group-denoting nouns can bind plural anaphors in the so-called periphrastic reciprocal construction (see (26a)) and are therefore compatible with nonsymmetric reciprocals. This, however, does not correlate with PC PRO being able to antecede plural anaphors (see (26b)).

(26)

  • a.

    %The committee kissed each other.

  • b.

    *Suej wants [PROj+ to kiss each other]. (* for the same speakers who accept (26a))

Thus, within the same English dialect, a group noun, but not PC PRO, can be the subject of a nonsymmetric reciprocal.

Group nouns and PC PRO differ in a similar way when we examine their compatibility with those nonsymmetric reciprocal predicates that are not periphrastic reciprocals. Recall that PC PRO can only be predicated of symmetric reciprocal predicates—that is, predicates that always yield an atomic event interpretation. Group nouns, on the other hand, are not subject to this constraint: they are compatible with nonsymmetric reciprocal predicates on both of their interpretations, as the examples in (27), found on the Internet, make clear. The predicate s’envoyer des messages ‘send messages to each other’ in (27b) is a nonsymmetric reciprocal predicate that takes the group noun couple as its subject and is incompatible with an atomic event interpretation (i.e., it can only be understood as the accumulation of message-sending subevents). In (27a), on the other hand, the nonsymmetric reciprocal s’embrasser ‘kiss’, predicated of the same group noun, is compatible with both an accumulation-of-subevents and an atomic-event interpretation.

(27)

  • a.

    Le couple s’est embrassé.

    the couple SE-is kissed

    ‘The couple kissed (each other).’

  • b.

    Le couple s’est envoyé des messages sur Instagram.

    the couple SE-is sent some messages on Instagram

    ‘The couple sent each other messages on Instagram.’

It thus appears that PC PRO in French does not allow nonsymmetric predicates, while group nouns do. A reviewer suggests the following possible explanation. The semantic plurality of group nouns is clear from their intrinsic meaning and therefore this type of semantic content can, to some extent, license syntactic plurality, a necessary ingredient for distributivity.9 PC PRO, on the other hand, is an empty category whose semantic plurality is determined by a covert operator.10 It therefore has no intrinsic semantic content that can license syntactic plurality and consequently distributivity. This approach, which is based on the observation that PC PRO is not distributable (see, e.g., Landau 2016a) does not, however, predict the fact that a sentence like (4b), repeated here as (28), remains ungrammatical under any interpretation.

(28)

  • *Ericj voulait [PROj+ s’embrasser dans la cuisine].

  • Eric wanted SE-kiss in the kitchen

  • ‘Eric wanted to kiss in the kitchen.’

To explain, the French syntactic reciprocal s’embrasser is nonsymmetric; that is, it is compatible with both an accumulation-of-subevents reading, which arguably involves distributivity, and an atomic-event reading, which does not. It therefore ought to be possible to interpret (28) in exactly the same manner as its English translation. This possibility is, however, ruled out: only those reciprocal predicates that are symmetric—that is, those whose reciprocality is determined in the lexicon—license PC PRO. We therefore conclude that the constraint uncovered in this squib is distinct from Landau’s distributivity constraint and will have to follow from other considerations. We leave this as an open issue for future research.

Notes

1Landau (2000:86) was the first to notice this selective availability in French but erroneously assumed that while PC was generally available in French, it was impossible with any of the collective se-predicates. He also noted that his theory of control did not offer a satisfactory explanation for the latter fact.

2 Note that (4b) is grammatical on an exhaustive obligatory control reading, with se taking on a reflexive meaning paraphrasable in English as ‘Eric wanted to kiss himself in the kitchen’.

3 Note that just about any transitive verb with a plural subject can be paired with a reciprocal anaphor. The productivity of the periphrastic strategy suggests, of course, that it is syntactic in nature.

4Landau (2000:50) reports that examples like (13) are grammatical, while Pearson (2013:312) indicates that her pool of British-English-speaking informants found such sentences to be ungrammatical. Thus, there may be some variation, whose origin is unclear to us. That is, cross-dialectal variation in the use of plural agreement with group nouns in British English has been tied to two main factors: register and the distance between the controller of agreement and the target (see Levin 2001, Smith 2017:33–38). Neither of these factors seems relevant to the case at hand. Whatever the ultimate explanation for this variation, what is important is that its existence is not expected under Landau’s (2000) account of the ungrammaticality of sentences like (11).

5 The reciprocal anaphor l’un l’autre ‘each other’ may be added to the sentence in (14), as in (i), but the result is somewhat redundant and therefore only marginally acceptable.

  • (i)

    ?Ron et Sally se sont embrassés l’un l’autre.

    Ron and Sally SE are kissed the-one the-other

    ‘Ron and Sally kissed each other.’

  • French reciprocal anaphors are, however, entirely natural in the absence of a se morpheme, as (ii) illustrates.

  • (ii)

    Alain et Béa seront présentés l’un à l’autre par leur

    Alain and Be´a will.be introduced the-one to the-other by their

    professeur de chant.

    teacher of song

    ‘Alain and Béa will be introduced to each other by their voice teacher.’

6 Note that the fact that only lexical reciprocals allow the discontinuous reciprocal construction does not mean that they must do so. In English, for example, the lexical reciprocal kiss has no discontinuous counterpart, as (i) shows.

  • (i)

    *Anne kissed with Ken.

    (cf. Anne and Ken kissed.)

  • This is not altogether surprising, given that pairs such as (iia–b) suggest that lexical reciprocals and discontinuous reciprocals are not syntactically and/or semantically equivalent.

  • (ii)

    • a.

      Chris met with Bill/everyone/no one.

    • b.

      Chris and Bill/*everyone/*no one met.

Note also Siloni’s (2012) claim that while the comitative phrase in the discontinuous construction is an argument whose participation in the event seems equal to that of the subject, it fails to be diagnosed as an Agent. Siloni further proposes that the thematic content of the comitative phrase is initially unvalued and that it gets valued in the course of the derivation “owing to the symmetric relation it bears to the subject” (2012:47).

7 It is worth noting that the two French verbs that are most often translated as ‘meet’—namely, se réunir and se rencontrer—offer a revealing contrast in Standard French. While se réunir licenses the discontinuous construction, has a transitive counterpart, and participates in PC (ia), se rencontrer does not (ib).

  • (i)

    • a.

      Jej préférerais [PROj+ me réunir demain].

      I would.prefer 1SG to.meet tomorrow

    • b.

      *Jej préférerais [PROj+ me rencontrer demain].

      I would.prefer 1SG to.meet tomorrow

  • We expect this to follow from the fact that se rencontrer is nonsymmetric, which is not immediately obvious. On closer inspection, however, we find that the subject of transitive rencontrer, unlike its object, must be in motion (see (ii)), from which it follows that A rencontre B does not entail that B rencontre A. Given this, we can now test whether the reciprocal se rencontrer in (iiia) can, in fact, describe the sum of the two subevents given in (iiib–c) and whether it therefore exhibits nonsymmetric semantics. The judgments are, unfortunately, not as clear as one might hope. Half of our informants report that (iiia) can indeed be construed as the sum of the two subevents in (iiib) and (iiic), while the other half agree with one of our reviewers that it cannot. This variation is unexpected and remains an open issue for future research.

  • (ii)

    • a.

      Paul, à vélo, a rencontré Marie, assise sur un banc.

      ‘Paul, riding his bike, met Marie, sitting on a bench.’

    • b.

      #Paul, assis sur un banc, a rencontré Marie, qui faisait du vélo.

      ‘Paul, sitting on a bench, met Marie, riding her bike.’

  • (iii)

    • a.

      Paul et Marie se sont rencontrés.

      ‘Paul and Marie met.’

    • b.

      Paul, a vélo, a rencontré Marie, assise sur un banc.

      ‘Paul, riding his bike, met Marie, sitting on a bench.’

    • c.

      Marie, en se promenant, a rencontré Paul, qui dormait sous un arbre.

      ‘Marie, while taking a stroll, met Paul, who was sleeping under a tree.’

8 A reviewer asks if the symmetry constraint extends to those nonreciprocal predicates that are compatible with PC PRO such as apply for the grant together or exchange letters. Although a thorough examination of a large sample of such predicates is beyond the scope of this squib, it seems that the answer to this question is positive, based on Siloni’s (2002) event-counting test. The sentence in (i) involves a symmetric predicate: it can only mean that Ron and Sally filed three joint grant applications, not that each of them applied for the grant three times, which would result in six applications between the two of them. Similarly, (ii) necessarily refers to three events of letter exchanging between Ron and Sally and not to six separate writing events such that each individual of the pair Ron and Sally wrote to the other three times. Note that the latter interpretation is, of course, available for (iii), which involves a nonsymmetric periphrastic reciprocal.

  • (i)

    Ron and Sally applied for the grant together three times.

  • (ii)

    Ron and Sally exchanged letters three times.

  • (iii)

    Ron and Sally wrote letters to each other three times.

9 Note, however, that, as de Vries (2014, 2015) observes, group nouns are not compatible with all types of distributive predication. For example, the behavior of the group noun subject the committee in a sentence like (ib), unlike its plural subject counterpart the linguists in a sentence like (ia), acts as a singularity in that it cannot give rise to a so-called mixed interpretation (generally attributed in the semantic literature to the presence of a hidden distributivity operator quantifying over the members of the set denoted by plural subjects).

  • (i)
    • a.

      The linguists were attending a talk or taking a break. (ambiguous)

      • i.

        All of the linguists were involved in the same activity. They were either attending a talk or taking a break. (nonmixed interpretation)

      • ii.

        For each member of the set of linguists, he or she was either attending a talk or taking a break. That is, some members of the set denoted by the linguists were attending a talk while other members were taking a break. (mixed interpretation)

    • b.

      The committee (of linguists) was attending a talk or taking a break. (unambiguous)

      • i.

        Nonmixed interpretation only

10 For example, Landau (2016b) argues that PC constructions contain an abstract associative morpheme (AM) attached to the inflectional head of the infinitive. This AM functions as a group operator on the index of the controller, which yields a set that includes the referent of this index plus at least one other (discourse-salient) referent. Because the AM is attached to a ϕ-feature-less T, it does not induce morphological plurality, though it does induce semantic plurality. Finally, while PC PRO (and possibly obligatory control PRO in general) inherits its morphological ϕ-features from the controller, it does so at PF, “too late” to affect the semantic interpretation.

Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge the helpful comments and suggestions made by Benjamin Bruening, Idan Landau, Tal Siloni, Dominique Sportiche, the LI reviewers, the Squibs and Discussion editors, and the audiences at the 41st Penn Linguistics Colloquium and the 47th Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages hosted by the University of Delaware. We also wish to thank our informants: Nigel Duffield and Ian Roberts for (British) English and Simon Cottart, Morgane Haesen, Johann LeGuelte, Marie Paillard, and Timothée Valentin for French. All remaining errors are, naturally enough, our sole responsibility.

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