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The Linguistic Review

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Volume 34, Issue 3


External syntax and the Cumulative Effect in subject sub-extraction: An experimental evaluation

Ciro Greco / Marco Marelli / Liliane Haegeman
Published Online: 2017-07-04 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/tlr-2017-0009


In this paper, we test the Cumulative Effect proposed by (Haegeman et al. 2014. Deconstructing the subject condition in terms of cumulative constraint violation. The Linguistic Review 31(1). 73–150). In particular, we focus on the role of factors of external syntax in the modulation of subject opacity to extraction, addressing different constraints presented in (Haegeman et al. 2014. Deconstructing the subject condition in terms of cumulative constraint violation. The Linguistic Review 31(1). 73–150). Two sets of formal acceptability judgments are presented. In the first experiment, we address the opacity of subjects from a broad point of view, in order to assess whether subject DPs are more resistant to extraction than other DPs. The results confirm that subject constituents are more opaque to extraction than object constituents. In the second experiment, we address the impact on the modulation of the Cumulative Effect of three different constraints individually: the Freezing Principle, the Inactivity Condition and the Edge Condition. We did that through the manipulation of two different factors: the position of the extraction site and the predicate type. The results do not confirm the predictions made by the Cumulative Effect, since the interaction between different factors does not appear to be additive and incremental. We discuss the implications of these results for the existing theories of subject islands and address an alternative perspective, recently proposed by (Bianchi, Valentina & Cristiano Chesi. 2014. Subject islands, reconstruction, and the flow of the computation. Linguistic Inquiry 45(4). 525–569), according to which the opacity of subjects is a function of the syntax semantics interface.

Keywords: experimental syntax; subject islands; sub-extraction; grammaticality gradience; Italian


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About the article

Published Online: 2017-07-04

Published in Print: 2017-08-28

Citation Information: The Linguistic Review, Volume 34, Issue 3, Pages 479–531, ISSN (Online) 1613-3676, ISSN (Print) 0167-6318, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/tlr-2017-0009.

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