Variable Binding and Relative Clauses

  • Robin Cooper
Part of the Synthese Language Library book series (SLAP, volume 4)


Rodman (1976) makes the extremely interesting and attractive proposal that quantifier scope relationships are governed by the constraints that Ross (1967) proposed for certain movement and other syntactic transformations. Similar proposals have been made by Postal (1974) and Fauconnier (1975). Such claims are of great interest to linguists since potentially they not only identify semantic properties of natural languages which distinguish them from formal languages (thereby helping to characterize that subset of all possible languages which is the set of possible natural languages) but they also point the way towards a unified account of certain characteristics of both the syntax and semantics of natural languages. In this paper I shall examine Rodman’s proposal in the light of a Montague approach to the interpretation of transformational syntaxes. I shall restrict my attention mainly to the complex NP constraint with respect to relative clauses, but I believe that my remarks will generalize to other types of complex NP and also to cases involving the sentential subject constraint. I shall suggest that some rather obvious apparent counterexamples can, in fact, be explained away and I shall point out some examples where it seems extremely difficult to tell whether there is a reading associated with the sentence which would provide a counterexample.


Deep Structure Relative Clause Wide Scope Definite Description Variable Binding 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin Cooper
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WisconsinMadisonUSA

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