Subclausal locality constraints on relative clause extraposition

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We argue, using corpus evidence from English and German, that extraposition does not obey subclausal locality constraints such as Subjacency (Chomsky 1973) and related proposals if these constraints are taken to be categorical constraints. We also present results from two ex­periments on locality and extraposition in English and German that are partly unexpected for these theoretical accounts of subclausal locality. However, we also demonstrate a robust but gradient effect of locality in a corpus study on German and a significant effect of subclausal local­ity on extraposition in another acceptability experiment. We conclude that locality constraints on extraposition are gradient and that syntactic locality should be seen in the context of processing factors such as de­pendency locality (Gibson 2000) and linear distance.


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