Abstract

This is a reply to Caponigro 2019, which argues that the phrase structure theory proposed by Donati and Cecchetto (2011; 2015) falls short of accounting for the attested patterns of free relative clauses. Caponigro questions the reliability of the data supporting D&C’s hypothesis that ever-relatives introduced by a phrase (ever+NP relatives) should not be assimilated to free relatives. This paper reports the results of 4 controlled experiments in English and Italian and discusses five properties that set apart free relatives from full relatives (occurrence with a complementizer, occurrence with a relative pronoun, infinitival use, absolute use, adverbial use). Crucially, ever+NP relatives do not pattern like free relatives in any of these five domains, either in Italian or in English. This clearly shows that ever-relatives are not a counterexample against D&C’s phrase structure theory. Another potential counterexample, Romanian free relatives, is also discussed. As for the analysis of ever+NP relatives, in Italian they are shown to be garden variety headed relatives, while in English they are headed relatives that involve a D to D movement which is responsible for the syntactic formation of the complex determiner what+ever.

This content is only available as a PDF.

Article PDF first page preview

Article PDF first page preview