Chapter published in:Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 2017: Selected papers from 'Going Romance' 31, Bucharest
Edited by Alexandru Nicolae and Adina Dragomirescu
[Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 355] 2021
► pp. 278–296
On another apparent violation of the subject-island constraint in French
This chapter addresses extractions of wh-marked complements of nouns out of French subject DPs into direct interrogatives – an apparent violation of the subject island constraint. We explain why some speakers of French can extract such constituents into interrogatives with complex inversion, whereas the grammaticality of other interrogative structures is clearly degraded. Our formal analysis is based on the Minimalist Program and assumes that material extracted from DPs has to pass through the DP phase-edge. In complex inversion, a structure in which the subject itself needs to move to the CP, the reordered subject DP (with the complement of N at the DP phase-edge) moves as a whole, thus giving a surface order that violates the subject island constraint only in appearance.
Keywords: French, long distance dependencies, wh-extraction, subject-island constraint, subject condition, generative grammar, minimalist program
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