Volume 13, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238


In an influential paper, Fox & Thompson (1990) argue that the grammar of relative clauses in spoken American English is affected by interactive and cognitive factors pertaining to the communication situation. Existential sentences containing a relative clause as well as an overt locative expression figure prominently in their analysis. The present paper examines Fox & Thompson’s analysis of such sentences in the light of a wide range of data. It is shown that the generalizations they make on the basis of their limited corpus (25 tokens) rest on false premises. Their analysis fails to take account of some of the most salient properties inherent in existential sentences in all varieties of English; it also disregards relevant cross-linguistic data. An alternative analysis is offered.


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