Pronouns are units of language (UoL) which replace nominal constituents. They differ from lexical nouns in that they only have grammatial content (e.g., phi-features). But the UoLs that fit this criterion do not behave like a natural class.
For example, in German, personal pronouns can be bound but d-pronouns cannot. I have argued that this is due to the fact that personal pronouns are PhiPs, but d-pronouns are DPs and hence behave like definite descriptions.
If pronouns are not a natural class, then it would be unexpected that there is a universal principle that is sensitive to an alleged category "pronoun". In joint work with Rose-Marie Déchaine, this led us to conclude that binding theory does not exist (at least not in the sense that it has a principle that picks out pronouns).
Thus pronouns provide a microcosm into functional categories in the nominal domain.
Recently, Elizabeth Ritter and I have explored the properties of so-called pronouns in East Asian languages, which have very different properties. We argue that they are UoLs that associate with the interactional spine, hence they are not bundles of phi-features. We call them paranouns. They are neither nouns, nor pronouns. They contain socio-linguistic information about the interactants and the relation among them.
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Sichel, Ivy & Martina Wiltschko. To appear. The logic of Person markedness: Evidence from pronominal competition. Language.
Sichel, Ivy & M. Wiltschko. 2018. Demonstrative Pronouns and the Linguistic Encoding of Appraisal. In: G. Bennett, Lindsay Hracs, and Dennis Ryan Storoshenko (eds.) Proceedings of the 35th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics. published by Cascadilla Proceedings Project, Somerville, MA, USA 365-373
Déchaine, Rose-Marie & Martina Wiltschko. (2017) Bound variable anaphora. In: Henk van Riemsdijk & Martin Everett (eds.) The Wiley Blackwell Companion of Syntax, 2nd edition 1–33.
Déchaine, R.-M. & M. Wiltschko. (2017) The heterogeneity of reflexives Studia Linguistica 71 (1-2): 60–106
Wiltschko, M. (2016). Fake form. In: Grosz, P. & P. Patel-Grosz (eds.) The Impact of Pronominal Form on Interpretation, 13-52. Berlin: de Gruyter Mouton.
Déchaine, R.-M., M. Wiltschko. 2015. ‘When and why can 1st and 2nd person pronouns be bound variables?’ by Grosz, Patrick; Pritty Patel-Grosz and Igor Yanovich (eds.) NELS 40: Proceedings of the Semantics Workshop on Pronouns. 1-50
Wiltschko, M., V.Marshall, A. Matheson, A. Vincent. 2015 ‘Independent pronouns in Blackfoot.’ McCaulay, Monica; Valentine, Randolph (eds.) Papers of Algonquian Conference (43). SUNY Press. 266-286. [Wiltschko 85%, others 5% each] (refereed paper)
Tammpere, L. V. Birdstone, & M. Wiltschko. 2012. Independent pronouns in Ktunaxa. Papers for the 44th Conference on Salish and Neighboring Languages. University of British Columbia Working Papers in Linguistics. 325-339.
Wiltschko, M. 2004. ‘Reflexives in Upriver Halkomelem’ International Journal of American Linguistics. 70.2: 101-127.
Déchaine, R-M. & M. Wiltschko 2004. ‘Deconstructing reciprocals’ In: M. Martínez, A. Alcázar, R. Hernández (eds.) Proceedings of the 33rd Western Conference on Linguistics Vol. 16 WECOL 2004 (USC).
Déchaine, R.-M. & M. Wiltschko. 2003. ‘On pro-nouns and other ‘pronouns’. In: M. Coene, Y. D'hulst (eds.) From NP to DP. Volume 1: The syntax and semantics of noun phrases. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. (=Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 55): 71-89.
Déchaine, R-M. & M. Wiltschko. 2003. ‘Deriving Reflexives’ In: L. Mikkelsen & Ch. Potts (eds.) Proceedings of the 21st West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL 21). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project. 71-84.
Déchaine, R.M & M. Wiltschko. 2002. ‘Decomposing Pronouns’ Linguistic Inquiry 33: 409-442.
Wiltschko, M. 2002. ‘Some remarks on reflexives in Upriver Halkomelem.’ In: C. Gillon, N. Sawai & R. Wojdak (eds.) Papers for the Fortieth Conference on Salish and Neighbouring Languages. University of British Columbia Working Papers in Linguistics, Volume 9: 399-416.
Wiltschko, M. 2002. ‘The syntax of pronouns. Evidence from Halkomelem Salish’ Natural Language and Linguistic Theory. 20: 157-195.
Wiltschko, M. 2000. ‘The categorical determination of pronominal binding properties.’ In: Hirotani, M., Coetzee, A., Hall, N. & Kim, J-Y. (eds.) Proceedings of the Northeast Linguistics Society (NELS) 30. Amherst, MA: Graduate Linguistic Student Association (GLSA). 275-289.
Wiltschko, M. 1999. ‘The syntax of pronouns and determiners. A cross-linguistic study.’ In: M. Caldecott, S. Gessner, E.-S. Kim (eds.) Current Research on Language and Linguistics. University of British Columbia Working Papers in Linguistics, Volume 1: 293-320.
Wiltschko, M. 1998. ‘On the internal and external syntax and semantics of (relative) pronouns’ Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 2: 143-181.
Wiltschko, M. 1998 ‘On the internal and external syntax of Independent pronouns in Halq’eméylem.’ Papers for the 33rd International Conference on Salish and Neighboring Languages. Seattle, Washington. 428-447.
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