Mismatches in free relatives - grafting nanosyntactic trees
Fenna Bergsma
February 2019

German free relative constructions allow for case requirement mismatches under two types of circumstances. The first is when the case required in the embedded clause is more complex (nom < acc < gen < dat) than the case required in the main clause, and the relative pronoun takes the form of the embedded clause case. The second type of circumstance is when the form that corresponds to the two required cases is syncretic. I propose an analysis that combines Caha’s (2009) case hierarchy in nanosyntax with Van Riemsdijk’s (2006a) concept of grafting. By placing case features as separate heads in the syntax, a less complex case can be grafted into a different clause, explaining the first type of circumstance. The second type makes reference to the fact that syncretic forms are inserted via the same lexical entry (Superset Principle). The paper provides additional evidence that case is complex, and that more complex case can license less complex cases. Two aspects of the analysis for German are identified as language-specific parameters. Varying these two parameters gives the grammaticality patterns observed in free relatives in Polish, Greek and Gothic.
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Reference: lingbuzz/004527
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keywords: free relatives, syncretism, case hierarchy, nanosyntax, grafting, morphology, syntax
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