Specified subject condition

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The Specified Subject Condition is a condition introduced in Chomsky (1973) which states that:

(i)    No rule can involve X, Y in the structure
       ... X ... [a ... Z ... -WYV ... ] ...
       where Z is the specified subject of WYZ in a

Informally, a subject is specified if it is overt. Therefore, the reciprocal each other can be bound by the men in (ii), but not in (iii):

(ii)	The men saw [NP the pictures of each other]
(iii)  *The men saw [NP John's pictures of each other]

The specified subject John in (iii) blocks the binding relation between the men and each other. In later work, the SSC is subsumed under the binding theory.



  • Chomsky, N. 1982. Some concepts and consequences of the theory of government and binding, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Chomsky, N. 1980. On binding, Linguistic Inquiry 11-1, pp.1-46
  • Chomsky, N. 1973. Conditions on transformations, in: S.R. Anderson & P. Kiparsky, A festschrift for Morris Halle, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York.