Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 281–334 | Cite as

Semantic Constraints on Relative Clause Extraposition



Extraposed relative clauses pose certain problems for movement-based analyses. They seem to be insensitive to island constraints, and show intricate interactions with variable binding. Starting from the assumption that complement and modifier extraposition should not be treated alike, I present an analysis of relative clause extraposition that does not rely on movement. Instead, I assume that the same syntactic and semantic constraints interact to determine the grammaticality of both extraposed and non-extraposed relative clauses. Syntactically, the proposed constraints lead to the configurational superiority of the relative clause. This superiority has its origin in the semantics of the relative clause: the relative pronoun is referentially defective and remedies this deficiency by selecting an appropriate antecedent. The present analysis draws on data from German.


Artificial Intelligence Relative Clause Semantic Constraint Variable Binding Intricate Interaction 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ruhr-UniversitätBochum Sprachwissenschaftliches InstitutBochumGermany

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