Current trends in analyzing syntactic variation
  • ISSN 0774-5141
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9676
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This paper investigates the conditions that govern the choice between the German neuter singular relative pronouns ‘that’ and ‘what’. We show that requires a lexical head noun, while in all other cases is usually the preferred option; therefore, the distribution of and is most successfully captured by an approach that does not treat as an exception but analyzes it as the elsewhere case that applies when the relativizer fails to pick up a lexical gender feature from the head noun. We furthermore show how the non-uniform behavior of different types of nominalized adjectives (positives allow both options, while superlatives trigger ) can be attributed to semantic differences rooted in syntactic structure. In particular, we argue that superlatives select due to the presence of a silent counterpart of the quantifier ‘all’ that is part of the superlative structure.


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