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Subject intervention in free relatives

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Abstract

Subject intervention in wh-questions has been reported for several Romance varieties. The case we focus on here is free relatives. In Italian/French an object free relative introduced by <i>chi</i>/<i>qui</i> is degraded if a preverbal subject intervenes, much like the corresponding wh-question. However, pronominal relatives introduced by <i>ci&#242; che</i>/<i>ce que</i> do not show a subject intervention effect. Moreover, in other languages, including English, free relatives display no subject intervention effect whatsoever. In this paper we address the following questions:<i> (i)</i> Why do subject intervention effects emerge in direct questions and in free relatives in Italian, French (and other Romance varieties)&#63;<i> (ii)</i> Why don&#8217;t they arise in pronominal relatives&#63;<i> (iii)</i> Why don&#8217;t they arise in languages like English&#63;To answer these questions, we capitalize on the concept of Gross Minimality (Cecchetto &#38; Donati, 2015) and on the observation that English free relatives are modeled after <i>indirect</i> questions.

References

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