The syntax and semantics of relative clause attachment

  • This dissertation provides a comprehensive account of the grammar of relative clause extraposition in English. Based on a systematic review and evaluation of the empirical generalizations and theoretical approaches provided in the literature on generative grammar, it is shown that none of the previous theories is able to account for all the relevant facts. Among the most problematic data are the Principle C and scope effects of relative clause extraposition, cases with obligatory relative clauses, and relative clauses with elliptical NPs as antecedents. I propose a new analysis of relative clause extraposition within the constraint-based, monostratal grammatical framework of Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG), enhanced with the semantic theory of Lexical Resource Semantics (LRS). Crucially, it is a general analysis of relative clause attachment, since both canonical and extraposed relative clauses are licensed by the same syntactic and semantic constraints. The basic assumption is that a relative clause can be adjoined to any phrase that contains a suitable antecedent of the relative pronoun. The semantic information that licenses the relative clause is introduced by the determiner of the antecedent NP. The techniques of underspecified semantics and the standard semantic representation language used by LRS make it possible to formulate constraints which yield the correct intersective interpretation of the relative clause (arbitrarily distant from its antecedent NP) and at the same time link the scope of the antecedent NP to the adjunction site of the relative clause. In combination with the revised HPSG binding theory developed in this dissertation, the proposed analysis is able to capture the major properties of relative clause attachment within a unified and internally consistent monostratal constraint-based grammatical framework.

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Author:Heike Walker
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Referee:Gert WebelhuthORCiDGND, Manfred SailerORCiDGND, Robert Levine
Advisor:Gert Webelhuth
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of Publication (online):2017/02/06
Year of first Publication:2017
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Granting Institution:Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Date of final exam:2013/07/10
Release Date:2017/02/06
Tag:Extraposition; Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG); Lexical Resource Semantics (LRS); Relative Clauses
Page Number:259
Institutes:Neuere Philologien / Neuere Philologien
Dewey Decimal Classification:4 Sprache / 41 Linguistik / 410 Linguistik
4 Sprache / 42 Englisch, Altenglisch / 420 Englisch, Altenglisch
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht