Complementizer-gap phenomena

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Since Perlmutter (1971) the complementizer-gap effect has received much attention in linguistic research. This article investigates the solution presented in Van Valin (2005) which states that the phenomenon should be explained in pragmatic rather than syntactic terms. Using data from Swedish and several other languages I will argue that such a solution is unlikely to be correct, and that the English and Swedish facts are better explained by referring to available syntactic constructions. My conclusion is that in a cross-linguistic perspective restrictions on subject extraction must be regarded as a very heterogeneous phenomenon, and in order to explain the empirical data I will suggest a number of competing motivations related to the Accessibility Hierarchy, argument linking and syntactic templates.


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