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Observations on relative clauses in Bavarian

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Abstract

The central goal of this paper is to show that (some) relative pronouns in Bavarian German are better analysed as agreeing complementizers of sorts, and that this is a process fed by topicalization. More specifically, taking my cue from Felix (1985), I provide an alternative analysis to the construction <i>Das ist der Kerl, den wenn ich erwisch erschlag ich</i> &#8216;This is the guy who I&#8217;ll slay if I catch him&#8217;, which Felix analyses as a parasitic gap construction, whereby the second empty category (the parasitic gap in Felix&#8217;s terms), namely the object of <i>erschlag</i>, has been licensed by the postulated trace of <i>den</i> &#8216;who&#8217; in the <i>if</i>-clause. The alternative analysis I offer is motivated by theoretical and empirical problems with Felix&#8217;s approach. The very fact that the so-called &#8220;relative pronoun&#8221; in the construction under investigation must appear in the left edge of the <i>if</i>-clause suggests that this element never leaves this clause. This is indeed what I propose. The crucial ingredients of my analysis are: (i) Bavarian (but not Standard German) has a recursive CP, where the (VP-adjoined) <i>if</i>-clause has moved to the specifier position of the final CP, thereby triggering inversion (i.e. verb movement to C0), much like in English (cf. Emonds 1969, 1970, 1976); (ii) the so-called &#8216;relative pronoun&#8217; is in fact an agreeing complementizer of sorts; and (iii) the &#8216;parasitic gap&#8217; is a null resumptive pronoun.

References

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