Branan, Kenyon and Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine, to appear. “Ā-probing for the closest DP.”
Linguistic Inquiry. DOI: 10.1162/ling_a_00459

We consider the typology of attested Ā-extraction asymmetries between core argument DPs and argue that an Ā-probe can be required to specifically target the closest accessible DP. Such an Ā-probe specification is part of the influential Aldridge 2004, 2008 analysis of syntactically ergative extraction restrictions, but has not been widely adopted outside of work on ergative languages. We argue that restricted probing of this form underlies subject-only extraction behaviors in a number of non-ergative languages, including some of those in Keenan and Comrie’s (1977) typology of relativization asymmetries. We describe the behaviors of such probes in detail and relate them to other probe-goal behaviors in recent work on composite A/Ā probes.