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Bookmark and Share Paper 3317

German Relative Clauses and the Severed Index Hypothesis
Emily Hanink and Julian Grove
241-248 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


German definite articles are able to contract with prepositions under certain conditions. When a noun phrase is discourse anaphoric, contraction is blocked. The paper presents a puzzle surrounding this generalization: restrictive relative clauses require the use of the non-contracted (strong) article form, despite their apparent lack of anaphoricity; both the determiner of the head noun and the relative pronoun (which is, in most cases, syncretic with the definite article) surface with the strong form. The account provides a uniform analysis of discourse anaphoric and relative clause uses that requires interpreting indices as features that may occupy their own projections in nominal structure. In this analysis, the distinction between the strong and weak form is structural; the strong form contains an additional projection, called 'idxP', that intervenes between the determiner and the noun in anaphoric contexts. idxP hosts an index feature that may act either as a bindee, in the relative-clause internal position, or as a binder, in the relative-clause external position. The proposal furthermore shows that when assignment functions are built into the semantic model, idx is able to compositionally bind elements within its scope. In sum, the analysis unites anaphoric and relative clause uses by showing that both require the same additional structure, which is absent in the contracted (weak) article form, for binding purposes.

Published in

Proceedings of the 34th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Aaron Kaplan, Abby Kaplan, Miranda K. McCarvel, and Edward J. Rubin
Table of contents
Printed edition: $410.00