Mara Frascarelli Alessia Lacroce

Restrictive and non restrictive relative clauses in Modern Standard Arabic: an experimental study

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The aim of this paper is to present a systematic syntactic comparison betweern restrictive and non restrictive relative clauses in Modern Standard Arabic, providing evidence for their different structural properties and, consequently, for the necessity of a distinct formal account. To this purpose, an original experimental study has been designed and distributed online, obtaining the acceptability and interpretive judgments of 158 native speakers on 39 items, in which different syntactic conditions have been tested. In particular, the survey deals with (i) Antecedent selection in a complex head noun (Construct State and Coordination); (ii) Extraposition effects; (iii) Binding by external operators and scope of NWords and (iv) Reconstruction effects. The results obtained provide substantial evidence that a Head Raising (‘Promotion’) Analysis should be assumed for restrictive clauses, whereas non restrictives are better explained in the light of an ‘extended version’ of the Matching Analysis, according to which a non restrictive relative clause and its antecedent (an independent referential DP) are conjoined within a Coordinative Phrase. Graphics, figures and statistical data corroborate the structural analysis.


  • Modern Standard Arabic
  • Restrictive/Non Restrictive Relative Clauses
  • Extraposition
  • Binding Properties
  • Island Effects
  • Reconstruction


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