Specified subject condition

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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.


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics


  • 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.