Constraints on intra- and extraposition

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Complement clauses in German are subject to two conflicting requirements. First, the grammar requires complements to precede the clause-final verb. Second, considerations of parsing complexity require clausal complements to move rightward to a position following the clause-final verb, thereby avoiding center-embedding. We explore how the two major types of infinitival com­plement clauses – infinitival complements of modal and control verbs – be­have with regard to the tension created by these two conflicting requirements. Based on two grammaticality judgment experiments – one for each type of infinitival complementation – we argue that the observable pattern of intra-and extraposition, including certain mixed cases, is best understood as a grad­ual relaxation of the grammar-internal OV constraint in reaction to parsing pressure.


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