On the nature of the foot of relative clause

Radek Šimík

My paper is concerned with the structure of restrictive relative clauses (RC) and is based on two guiding ideas: the theoretical one is that the structural behavior of RCs can be captured by the combination of raising and matching analysis (as promoted by Sauerland 2000); the other one is based on the observation that the morphological differences among the elements introducing RCs (e.g. in English wh/that/zero ) as well as the differences in the phonetic realization of resumptive pronouns (full vs. empty) have syntactic consequences. In my paper I propose a structure of the foot of the RC (the lowest copy of the head) that accounts for both the morphological (assuming the framework of Distributed Morphology) and syntactic behavior.

The core proposal is made on the basis of four types of Czech data: (I) licensing of the foot in island structures, (II) the optionality of the head-foot coreference in case of φ-feature clash of two relative clause internal pronouns, (III) the possibility of a comparison-class reading of the RC with a head modified by a superlative adjectival, (IV) negative polarity item (NPI) licensing in the same kind of structures (as in III). The behavior of four types of Czech relative clauses is examined: (A) RC introduced by adjectival relative pronouns ( který ); (B) RC with phonetically empty accusative resumptive pronouns; (C) RC with overt resumptives; (D) RC introduced by pronominal relatives ( jenž ). The following chart summarizes the behaviors:


(I)/(II) - - + -

(III)/(IV) +/- + - -

The proposal is as follows. The functional head selecting the foot-NP is D, as standardly assumed. The resulting DP is selected by a head, which we call REL. Both D and REL come in two variants. D is either [+definite] or [-definite], REL is either [+EPP] or [-EPP]. The outcome is four possible types of the foot of RC (more precisely, its functional domain). I claim that all of them are attested in Czech, coming in three distinct morphological variants:

type feature composition morphological realization

(a) A D [+definite]; REL [+EPP] který

(b) A' D [-definite]; REL [+EPP] který

(c) B D [-definite]; REL [-EPP] empty accusative resumptive

(d) D D [+definite]; REL [-EPP] jenž

Overt resumptives (C) are treated as ordinary clitic pronouns, lacking the REL projection and thus forming a fifth type of the foot (e):

(e) C D [+definite]; no REL overt resumptive (clitic personal pronoun)

The syntactic behavior (I)-(IV) correlates with the proposed structure in the following way: licensing of the foot in islands (I) and optional foot-reading (II) correlates with the absence of REL head; the comparison-class reading of the RC (III) and NPI licensing (IV) correlates with the absence of [+definite] on D. We also explain the morphological properties of the foot: the presence of a relative adjectival modifier který (A, A') is explained by the presence of [+EPP] on REL, while the presence of personal-pronominal morphology (C, D) in the foot is derived from the presence of [+definite] on D. My analysis seems to be valid cross-linguistically, which will be shown selectively, and presents a novel view of the distinction between phonetically full and empty resumptives, treating them as syntactically different (contra Boeckx 2003).


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