Studies in the Syntax of Relative and Comparative Clauses

A. D. Andrews III, 1975

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This thesis is an investigation of certain aspects of the syntax of relative and comparative clauses. In chapter 1, I give a typological survey of relative clauses in the languages of the world. This chapter serves both to convey a general impression of what relative clauses are like in the languages of the world, and to establish certain phenomena that are of theoretical import. One of the most significant of these is that there are relative clauses that cannot be deep structure constituents with the NP they modify, but must be generated in the base at an unbounded distance from that NP. In chapter 2, I examine comparative clauses, and integrate the material given with that presented for relatives. I first review the analysis of the heads of comparative clauses given by Bresnan (1973), making minor modifications and extensions, and motivating certain principles of rule application. I then show that comparative clauses, like relatives, cannot be uniformly treated as underlying constituents with their heads, but must be generable at an unbounded distance from these heads. Given the requisite underlying constituent structures, certain classical problems become unsolved, such as the cooccurrence relations between the complementizers of comparative clauses and the determiners of their heads. To solve these problems I introduce a theory of abstract relations holding between the constituents of phrase-markers. The relations are constrained by a system of language-universal well-formedness conditions. The system explains a variety of phenomena common to relative and comparative clauses, and thus constitutes a theory of the determiner complement system as proposed by Bresnan (1972).

Thesis Supervisor:      John R. Ross, Professor of Modern Languages and Linguistics

Introduction 1
1 A typology of relative clauses 4
1.1 Constituent structure relations 10
1.2 The treatment of NPrel 83
1.3 The extraction analysis 108
Footnotes to Chapter 1 114
Appendix to Chapter 1 116
2 Comparative clauses in English 117
2.1 The head, revisited 118
2.2 Comparative clauses in the base 156
2.3 Global relations 172
Footnotes to Chapter 2 196