Rossella Resi

The position of relative clauses in German

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Discontinuity between antecedent and relative clause in German is very frequent with respect to other languages. Discontinuity in a verb second language of the OV type like German requires necessarily the lexicalization of the Nachfeld of the matrix clause. While adjacency in German is allowed for every relative clause within every fi eld of the matrix clause, discontinuity is subject to restrictions, which concern, in the first place, the difference between restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses. The aim of this work is to outline these restrictions and to provide an explanation of the grammaticality or ungrammaticality of each case of discontinuity (Vorfeld-Mittelfeld, Vorfeld-Nachfeld and Mittelfeld-Nachfeld) for each of the two typologies of relative clause taken into account (restrictive and non-restrictive). The results are based on the evidence that relative clauses in German are assigned two different syntactic derivations: Head Raising Analysis (Kayne, 1994) for restrictive relative clasues and Matching Analysis for non-restrictive relative clauses (Sauerland, 1998).


  • relative clauses
  • extraposition
  • discontinuity
  • restrictive relative clauses
  • non-restrictive relative clauses


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