LINGUIST List 5.280

Wed 09 Mar 1994

Sum: E-Type Pronouns

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  1. Paul Dekker, Subject: 5.37 Qs: E-Type Pronouns

Message 1: Subject: 5.37 Qs: E-Type Pronouns

Date: Tue, 8 Mar 1994 12:40:05 +Subject: 5.37 Qs: E-Type Pronouns
From: Paul Dekker <>
Subject: Subject: 5.37 Qs: E-Type Pronouns

Query: the term `E-type pronoun'

Some time ago (10 Jan 1994) we queried the linguist list for explanations
of the term `E-type', the name of a kind of (use of) pronouns discussed by
Gareth Evans. In case no reliable factual explanations were proposed, we
sollicited alternative explanations, and proposed to award the title ``The
Official Linguist List Explanation'' to the most original one of them.

Not a great number of explanations were sent to us, because, apparently,
nobody did have a good explanation of the term, and, more importantly,
nobody could beat LARRY HORN's irrefutable alternative.

The awarded contribution is fully reproduced below, but first we would like
to thank the people who reacted/replied. They are: Varol Akman, Alexis
Dimitriadis, Larry Horn (#1), Dick Oehrle and Peter Sells.

Peter Blok (, Paul Dekker (, Klaus von
Heusinger (

 % %
 % E-TYPE %
 % %
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 Date: Wed, 12 Jan 94 10:41:09 EST
 From: Larry Horn <>

 I myself always felt uncomfortable about this very issue. Even Chomsky
never referred to 'C-adjunction', and Quine refrained from citing
'Q-arguments' against ontological overpopulation. I did assume the E- was
simply for Evans, but I agree the matter demands further research. After
pushing my own scholarship to the limits, I am forced to conclude that Gareth
Evans was simply too modest a philosopher to have named an entire class of
anaphoric entities after himself. Examining the pronouns in question, we find
that Evans--e.g. in his 1980 characterization of the problem
("Pronouns", LI 11: 337-62)--uses a variety of animals as non-binding
antecedents, including sheep, dogs, and congressmen [the numbering of the
examples is Evans's, from pp. 339-43 of the article cited].

 (8) John owns some sheep and Harry vaccinates them in the spring.
 (25) Socrates owned a dog and it bit Socrates.
 (7) Few congressmen admire Kennedy, and they are very junior.

Nevertheless, such anaphoric relations have long been recognized in the
literature, as Geach and others have observed, and the locus classicus has
always involved a donkey. Indeed, the widespread occurrence of examples like
(1) and (2) have provided the traditional informal name of the phenomenon,

 (1) Every farmer who owns a donkey beats it.
 (2) If a farmer owns a donkey, he [sic] beats it.

viz. 'donkey sentences'. The conclusion is not merely plausible but
compelling: the E- of E-type sentences can only refer to the sound a donkey
makes upon being beaten by the farmer that owns it. Thus the sentences in
question were originally known as 'Hee-haw' sentences, pronounced 'Ee-aw'
sentences. (Note that independent research has shown that donkeys do not
pronounce syllable-initial [h], whence A. A. Milne's use of 'Eeyore' to name
the sad-eyed donkey in his Winnie-the-Pooh stories; in his [r]-less British
R.P. dialect, the donkey's name is pronounced [I:aw], where [aw] denotes 'open
o'.) We can thus see that what Evans had in mind was 'Hee-haw'- (or, more
perspicuously, Ee-aw-)type pronouns, later simplified to E-type pronouns.
Evans's generalization of the phenomenon, extending it from donkeys to sheep,
congressmen, and even dogs, should not disguise its fundamental asininity.

 Laurence R. Horn

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