Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 61–98 | Cite as

The matching effect in resumption: A local analysis based on Case attraction and top-down derivation



In this paper we analyze a hitherto unstudied matching effect in resumptive relatives. In some languages where gaps and resumptives are in complementary distribution, the choice between the two strategies depends on the Case of the head noun: in Swiss German, the focus of our study, dative relativization requires resumptives; however, the resumptive is omitted if the head noun bears dative as well. This non-local dependency poses a serious challenge to local derivational bottom-up theories of syntax. We argue that a local solution is possible if the distribution of gaps and resumptives is reinterpreted in terms of Case attraction and the derivation unfolds top-down. Consequently, the relevant piece of information, the Case of the head noun, is available on the operator so that the choice between gaps and resumptives can be made without recourse to non-local devices. Gap relatives obtain in configurations where the Case attraction derivation converges while resumptives occur as a repair in derivations where Case attraction leaves a Case-probe unchecked. The matching effect falls out naturally as a subcase of Case attraction.


Relative clauses Resumption Case attraction Locality Top-down derivation Matching Hierarchy effects Swiss German 



Earlier versions of this research were presented at the University of Leipzig (March 2013, October 2014), at the EGG summer school in Debrecen (August 2014), at CGSW 29 in York (September 2014), at the University College London (February 2015), at the workshop on obligatoriness at TbiLLC 2015 in Tbilisi (September 2015) and at the Syntax and Semantics Colloquium in Paris (October 2015). We thank the audiences for helpful feedback, in particular Klaus Abels, Elena Anagnostopoulou, Rajesh Bhatt, Erich Groat, Fabian Heck, Anke Himmelreich, Winnie Lechner, Gereon Müller, Ad Neeleman, Andrew Nevins, Ivy Sichel, and Philipp Weisser. Furthermore, we are very grateful to Marika Lekakou for her help with the Greek data and to our Swiss German-speaking informants. Finally, we thank the handling editor Jason Merchant and three anonymous NLLT reviewers for their valuable comments. The usual disclaimers apply. This research has been supported by the DFG-grant GRK 2011, the ANR-grants ANR-10-LABX-0087 IEC and ANR-10-IDEX-0001-02 PSL* (Georgi) as well as the SNSF-grant PA00P1_136379/1 and the DFG-grant SA 2646/1-1 (Salzmann).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PSL* Research University, Département d’études cognitives, Institut Jean NicodEcole Normale SupérieureParisFrance
  2. 2.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of LeipzigLeipzigGermany

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