Swedish relative clauses as weak islands

Filippa Lindahl


Some recent accounts of relative clause extraction (RCE) in Swedish assume that clauses that allow extraction do not themselves involve A-bar dependencies, and that RCE is possible only from subject relatives (e.g. Kush et al. 2013). I present evidence that Swedish allows A-bar movement from non-subject RCs as well. But not just any type of phrase can be extracted. For example, certain non-argument wh-phrases cannot move out. This means that Swedish RCs are weak, rather than strong islands (cf. Szabolcsi 2006). Szabolcsi takes an algebraic approach to weak islands where phrases that denote individuals, which can be collected into sets forming Boolean algebras, can be extracted, whereas phrases that denote non-individuals, which cannot be collected into such sets, cannot. However, it is not obvious how to extend such an approach to Swedish RCs, since they allow extraction of some phrases that denote non-individuals, like ‘how late’, as long as they are linked to the discourse. Instead, I propose that the phrases that can move out of relative clauses carry discourse-related features (DR), and that the C-heads in Swedish RCs attract DR-marked phrases, making them available in later stages of the derivation. 

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/exabs.v0i0.3000