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Cyclicity and connectivity in Nez Perce relative clauses

Abstract

© 2016 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This article studies two aspects of movement in relative clauses, focusing on evidence from Nez Perce. First, I argue that relativization involves cyclic Ā-movement, even in monoclausal relatives: the relative operator moves to Spec, CP via an intermediate position in an Ā outer specifier of TP. The core arguments draw on word order, complementizer choice, and a pattern of case attraction for relative pronouns. Ā cyclicity of this type suggests that the TP sister of relative C constitutes a phase—a result whose implications extend to an ill-understood corner of the English that-trace effect. Second, I argue that Nez Perce relativization provides new evidence for an ambiguity thesis for relative clauses, according to which some but not all relatives are derived by head raising. The argument comes from connectivity and anticonnectivity in morphological case. A crucial role is played by a pattern of inverse case attraction, wherein the head noun surfaces in a case determined internal to the relative clause. These new data complement the range of existing arguments concerning head raising, which draw primarily on connectivity effects at the syntax-semantics interface.

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