Elements of complex structures, where recursion isn’t

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In their recent work, Hauser, Chomsky and Fitch (2002:1569) suggest that recursion “is the only uniquely human component of the faculty of language”. In both generative and typological studies, the relativization site has been considered to be one of the places where recursion of sentences takes place. This paper examines a number of wide-spread patterns of relativization around the globe and argues that what have been identified as relative clauses/sentences are in fact nominalized entities, lacking some crucial properties of both full clauses and sentences. It is furthermore shown that these nominalized forms are neither syntactically nor semantically subordinate to the nominal head they modify.


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