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CP-complementation and selection. Ellen Brandner, Stuttgart


Academic year: 2021

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CP-complementation and




Cselection (whether based on sselection or not) has become a rather obscure concept -not only in recent years!

cf. know: that … not know: *that …

whP … whP …

*whether … whether …

 clausal negation changes the selectional restrictions of a lexical verb !?!!?

Even with internal nominal arguments, recent approaches, e.g. Ramchand (2008) Pylkkännen (2002), but see already Larson (1988), assume that nominal arguments are in fact base-generated in the specifier of a functional head and the meaning, i.e. the actual use of a verb-stem (realizing in its bare form only either a state or an activity) is then enriched. I.e. it is rather the combinatorial possibilities that leads different readings – and not so much the genuine (variable?) 'lexical meaning':

 incremental themes eat vs. eat something

 particles (prefixes) malen vs. etwas be-malen (paint vs. attach colour to something)



 The syntactic mechanism is always RC-formation, cf. Kayne (2018)

 All are interpreted essentially via predicate modification, see Simeonova (2018), different 'flavors', depending on the properties of the 'head noun'

With this background, it is obvious that clausal complements are also not directly selected as such, see Kratzer (2006), Moulton (2015), Elliott (2017), Simeonova (2018, 2020).

The question then is: how do clausal complements combine with the matrix clause?

Solution: Generalized correlative constructions!

Light nouns, correlates (PropDs, Elliott 2017) – Deus ex machina??

The next question: how does the 'head noun' with attitude verbs and verbs of saying come into existence? Long W-dependencies (in Alemannic)



Present and discuss some data from Alemannic LWDs which show that RCs can occur as 'complements' of (bridge) verbs

 revision of the idea of direct clausal complementation On some differences between dass-clauses and RCs w.r.t. resumptives

 different types of CPpred, the complementizer is relevant!

The contribution of the complementizers

 equation vs. co-reference

• Say and its kind: some thoughts on the status of the nominal correlate in the matrix clause • Further (micro-)variation found within the realm of complementizers


Alemannic Complementizers

Alemannic uses the d-type pronoun dass for 'usual' clausal embedding, e.g. under 'say':

On the other hand, Alemannic has a special complementizer for relative clauses, namely wo (RCI): (1)

Ich ha dir doch gseet dass i schpöter kumm I have you prt told that I later come 'I told you that I will come later'.


Die Katz wo do dübbe sitzt, ghört em Nochbar the cat RCI there over sits, belongs the neighbor 'The cat sitting over there, belongts to the neighbor


Alemannic Complementizers


*de Peter het gseet wo er schpöter kunnt *CC with wo the Peter has said RCI he later comes


* dia Katz das(s) all zu mir kunnt, wenn… * RC with dass the cat that always to me comes, when…

 different from English

where we have invariably that


Alemannic Complementizers

With content nouns:

 different types of complementizers for RCs and CCs, confirmation of de Cuba's (2017) suggestion that (N)CCs and RCs are different in nature, the same patters as in Bulgarian, Simeonova (2018)


der Vorschlag, dass mir schpöter kummet, isch guet content noun with dass *der Vorschlag, wo mir schpöter kummet, isch guet *content noun with RCI

the proposal that/RCI we later come is fine (6)

der Vorschlag, wo du gmacht hesch Relative Clause with RCI *der Vorschlag, dass du gmacht hesch Relative clause with dass


Alemannic Complementizers


a. Welles hesch gseet dass de witt? CC-complementizer b. %Welles hesch gseet wo de witt? RC-complementizer 'Which one have-you said that/RCI you want'.

This construction was explored in the project SynALM (https://ilg-server.ling.uni-stuttgart.de/synalm/html/), varying the type of the extracted phrase (core functions, adjuncts, etc.) and the (im)possibility of

resumptive pronouns (later) and it turned out that: • about 30-60% of the speakers accept this construction

(with higher rates with core arguments – lower ones with obliques, cf. Keenan/Comrie Hierarchy)

• no relevant areal pattern, idiolectal variation?

The complementizer may 'switch' to the RCI in case there is a W-dependency across a clausal boundary (LWD), see Brandner & Bucheli-Berger (2018), Brandner (2020):


The Data

Schema ? * Example in German

wer…dass (SU) 53 15 20 Wer hast du gesagt, dass dir dabei helfen wird? (SynAlm_FB4-7a.1)

wer…wo 64 15 16 Wer hast du gesagt, wo dir dabei helfen wird? (SynAlm_FB4-7a.5)

wem…dass (IO) 72 11 8 Wem hast du gesagt, dass der Peter beim Umzug helfen muss? (SynAlm_FB4-2a.1)

wem…wo 40 11 37 Wem hast du gesagt, wo der Peter beim Umzug helfen muss? (SynAlm_FB4-2a.4)

was…dass (DO) 68 9 12 Was hast du gesagt, dass ich mitnehmen soll? (SynAlm_FB4-10b.1)

was…wo 47 13 28 Was hast du gesagt, wo ich mitnehmen soll? (SynAlm_FB4-10b.7)

Given that the matrix verb cannot select for a relative clause, its possibility in the LDW must be due to the overall construction


LWDs using RC-formation – other languages

That the complementizer may change if a LWD is at stake is known from other languages as well, e.g. the Celtic languages, see the work by McCloskey, Adger & Ramchand (2005):


a.Thuirt sinn gun do sgrìobh i an leabhar. said we that wrote she the book 'We said that she wrote the book.'

b.an leabhar a cheannaich thu an diugh the book RCI bought you today 'The book that you bought today.'

The difference to Alemannic is that RC-formation is the only strategy available (although in spoken Sc. Gaelic, LWDs with go occurs as well (David Adger, pc); note furthermore that the 'extracted' Wh-phrase occurs as a cleft!

 are all kinds of WH-movement base generation?

If yes, it could provide an answer how 'normal CCs are connected to the matrix, as it would mean

that there is always an XP, base generated in the matrix, for which the embedded clause is the predicate (9)

a. *Dè a thuirt sibh gun sgrìobh i? what C-rel said you that wrote she 'What did you say that she wrote?'

b. Dè a thuirt sibh a sgrìobh i? what C-rel said you RCI wrote she 'What did you say that she wrote?'


LWDs using RC-formation – other languages

Adger & Ramchand (2005) suggest that the complementizers differ in their featural make up:

a [C, Λ, ID: dep] gu(n) [C, +embed]

categorial feature

Lambda feature:

the embedded TP is to be interpreted as a predicate (= gap in it!)

 wo in ALM has the same features

identification of the gap, local licensing via 'a'

categorial feature

simple embedding

This works somehow, but it would be nice to have a more principled explanation; specifically: is there a way to connect the 'lexical origin' of the complementizer(s) with their different behavior.


LWDs and resumptives

Alemannic – with its particle strategy – is known to show resumptives in RCs. These show up following the Keenan Comrie-Hierarchy as well:


Ø Ø Ø/√ √ other constructions

In the literature, it is often claimed that in Swiss German, the resumptive pronoun is obligatory

"from" the IO on, cf. Riemsdijk (2003), Salzmann (2006) – however, this is not confirmed by the data from SynAlm: only about 15% acceptance (rating 1-2 on a five point scale) for IO-relativization.

For other obliques, ratings in general go down, but they are clearly preferred with resumptives; speakers tend to use different constructions (in translation tasks); a similar observation is made in Agder & Ramchand (2006) in a paper on variational patterns in Scots Gaelic RC-formation.


LWDs and resumptives

Resumptive pronouns in LWDs, across one clause boundary:

Type of ‘extracted’ phrase

dass-LWD wo-LWD


subject 70% 9%

--direct object 30% 5%

--dative object 43% 12% 15%

 occurrence/acceptance of resumptive pronouns patterns with 'simple' RC-formation


a. Wer hesch denkt [wo *(er) dir debi hilft]

who have.you thought that he you-dat with-that helps b. Wer hesch denkt [dass er dir debi hilft]


LWDs and resumptives

variation of comps: acceptance (1-2) complete rejection (5)

dass…dass…gap 30% 22%

dass…dass…resumptive 70% 5%

wo…wo…gap 31% 23%

wo…wo…resumptive 8% 45%

Resumptive pronouns in LWDs, across two clause boundaries:

occurrence/acceptance of resumptive pronouns patterns still with 'simple' RC-formation (11)

wer hast du gesagt [dass/wo die Maria erzählt hat [dass (er) einen Unfall gehabt hat]] who have you said that/RCI the M. told has that/wo (he) an accident had has 'Who did you say that Mary told(said) that (he) had an accident?'


LWDs and resumptives

 the (im)possibility of a resumptive is dependent on the local licensing variation of comps: acceptance (1-2) complete rejection (5)

…wo…dass…gap 12 50

…wo…dass…resumptive 87 3

…wo…wo…gap 44 19

…wo…wo…resumptive 5 61

In sum: it is evident that the LWDs with the RCI pattern exactly like 'pure' RCs  same form of the complementizer

 same distribution of resumptives Further questions:

What does the structure look like for LWDs with wo? How can it be transferred to the LWDs with dass?


LWDs and their structure – dass

Axel-Tober (2017) and Axel-Tober & Brandner (2018):

the dass-complementizer has its origin in a generalized relative pronoun 'das';

its head noun in a CC is a correlative pronoun in the matrix (expletive es; possibly empty) LWDs are based on a proleptic construction:


a. Von wem hat Maria erzählt, dass sie ihn eingeladen hat? of whom has M. told that she him invited has

(instead of: Wen hat Maria erzählt, dass sie __ eingeladen hat?)

b. Peter möchte wissen, von wem Maria erzählt, dass sie ihn eingeladen hat. P. wants to know of whom M. told has that she him invited has

(instead of: Peter möchte wissen, wen Maria erzählt hat, dass sie __ eingeladen hat. Note the obligatory resumptive pronoun!


LWDs and their structure – dass

Axel-Tober (2017) and Axel-Tober & Brandner (2018): In older stages, much more variation:

• von-phrase not obligatory (instead accusative(?)) • variation with resumptives


a. Das ist ein Rätsel, das ich nicht glaube, daß jemand __ lösen wird“ Blatz (1896:978) this is a riddle that I not believe that somebody solve will

b. den dritten, welchen er gehört, daß er gerne Bier trinke. (Leseb. III, 760, 31; Behaghel 1928: 550) the third which he heard that he gladly beer drinks

 the modern proleptic structure with the oblique case marking and the obligatory resumptive due to standardization (?)


LWDs and their structure – dass

LWDs with dass are thus construed as follows:

(i) base generation of the 'fronted' wh-phrase as the head noun of the prolepsis (recall also the cleft in Celtic!) (ii) the embedded CP acts as a predicate, it is an aboutness relative clause ( later)

cf. Salzmann 2017 Von wem wurde gesagt, dass er schläft


CPs as predicates

Taking the CP as a predicate is exactly what is suggested in recent work on complementation, cf. Kratzer (2006, 2013), Moulton (2009), Elliott (2017), Simeonova (2018, 2020).

 Of course, the difference is that in the usual CC-construction, there is no LWD.  How does it work then?

 It is only a certain (and very small) class of verbs that allow CCs, i.e. bridge verbs  in order not to overgeneralize, a closer look at 'bridge verbs' is called for…


LWDs and their structure – wo

Brandner & Bräuning (2013):

wo is the successor of a very old strategy to build RCs, namely with an equative particle:


a. Das Geld so ich dir schulde… (Early New High German)

the money RCI I you owe

b. dhes thages, alsô thê kalend November anstendit,… (Beda-Predigt) the-gen. Day-gen, RCI the calendar N. begins…

c. OSaxon:

sulike gesidos so he im selbe gecos (Bergpredigt, Heliand, Verse 1280) such companions RCI he him self chosen (had)

d. Lieben herren, ir söllent wissen, das die k. m. allen knechten, so vss der Ow her (Schweizerkriege, 1499) Dear sirs, you should know that the k.m. all soldiers RCI out the O. from

gen Constentz kumen sind…

towards Konstanz went were…


LWDs and their structure – wo

Equatives are per se correlative constructions:

[so X] [so/as/wie… Y]

Parameter Standard

In a typical equative construction, the standard is elided: John runs as fast as Mary runs fast (does)


In an RC, the head noun 'acts' as the Parameter and the Standard is elided: the cat [ Eq-RCI the cat sitting over there], is hungry

 gap (the lambda-feature in Adger & Ramchand (2005)

 equative particle as the realization of an identification-function of the referential indices of the two DPs  in an LWD, the 'head noun' is the base generated von-Phrase in the matrix (the 'trace' is the elided standard)


On verbs of 'saying'


He talked too much  temporal extension He said too much  too much content

also: er lief sprechend/redend/*sagend durch die Wohnung he walked speaking/talking/*saying through the apartment

In contrast to activity verbs like sprechen (speak) and reden (talk), sagen (say) is a weak verb in German(ic); that means, it is derived from a noun or adjective, i.e. the noun (Sage)

is incorporated into a light verb with either a causative or an inchoative meaning:

√N sag V -ên -jan sag V sag√N -ên -jan sag cognate object

the cognate object is realized as a light noun:

something, it (correlate), pro

this noun serves as the subject of predication

equation is possible with a fully specified TP  no gap  dass  classical aboutness relative causative requires an affectee


Bringing things together…

Axel-Tober & Brandner (2018:8): generalized small clause structure where the Pred-head and the subject of the SC together 'build' the Left Periphery:

dass-complementizer  co-referentiality

equative particle  identification

If the subject position of the SC is overtly spelled out, the head position may be left empty – and vice versa


Bringing things together…

Equative particle:

equating properties  'usual' equative construction (identity of properties) equating referential indices  RC (ALM) and LWDs (ALM)

equating content  clausal complementation - via PM with content nouns

- equation with light nouns = 'real' clausal complementation

In all cases, correlative construction:

matrix dependent

equation so XP XP




Variation between dass-type and equative particle  always equative: Pennsylvania Dutch  next slide  some dialects of German (including parts of ALM)

%er het gseet ass er schpöter kunnt he has said Eq he later comes  also spoken/dialectal English:

- as-complementizer in RCs and in CCs (Sam Featherston, pc) - how-complementizer in English:

he told me how she hadn't seen her husband for 3 months (Nye 2018) - so as the general complementizer in Chinese Pidgin (Li 2017):

I think so he no wanchee come out



(15) Pennsylvania Dutch


Der Lawyer hot gshwetzd, ass wann er arrig bees waar the lawyer has talked like when he very angry were

relative complementizer

Es iss bauchgatt ass 's Bobbeli greische macht. it is belly ache that the baby cry makes

declarative complementizer

Es is mit woret gsaat, ass en gedreier Mann en Model unner Menner iss it is with truth said that a true man a model under men is


The landscape of variation

Given this attestation of the various possibilities, there is no other way to account for it

than by assuming 'bleaching' of one or the other element which then takes over other functions. Finding out further correlations with the given choice…

factivity subjunctive complementizer doubling/agreement subject/object asymmetries …that remains a topic for future research!

CC RC Eq CC with LWD Example language a b c d ??? a a/c c a English a c c a/c ALM c c c c(?) Penn. Dutch

Further point of variation: whether the pronouns are of the d(s)-series or the w-series  Romance languages with w-series


selected References:

Adger, D. & Ramchand, G. 2005. Merge and move: Wh-dependencies revisited. Linguistic Inquiry36(2):161-193.

Axel-Tober, K. (2017). The development of the declarative complementizer in German. Language 93: 29-65. Axel-Tober, K. & E. Brandner (2018). Relative pronouns, particles, complementizers….all the same?: Talk given at SaRDiS.

Brandner, E. & I. Bräuning 2013. Relative ‘wo’ – only a complementizer?. Linguistische Berichte 131-169. Brandner, E. & C. Bucheli-Berger 2018. Über lange W-Extraktion im Alemannischen. Syntax aus Saarbrücker Sicht 2, ed. by A. Speyer & P. Rauth. Zeitschrift für Dialektologie und Linguistik, Beihefte 170 31-68. Steiner De Cuba, C. (2017). Noun complement clauses as referential modifiers. Glossa: a Journal of General

Linguistics, 2(1).

Elliott, P. D. (2020). Elements of clausal embedding (Doctoral dissertation, UCL (University College London)). Kayne, R. (2018). Why isn’t this a complementizer? In Functional Structure from Top to Toe, ed. by P.

Svenonius, number 9, 188–231. OUP.

Moulton, Keir. 2009. Natural selection and the syntax of clausal complementation. Doctoral Dissertation, Umass

Nye, Rachel. 2018. How Complement Clauses Distribute: complementiser how and the case against clause-type. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Gent.

Kratzer, A. (2016). Evidential moods in attitude and speech reports. Slides presented at UConn Colloquium. Li, M. (2017). The emergence of so-complementation in Chinese Pidgin English. English World-Wide, 38(1), 5-28.


sâligkeit wesen ein daz kuot, umbe das alliu ding ketan werden (N. I, 246, 15) blessedness be a the asset, for RP all thing done are

so bin ich ein der man, der sich iu nennet ane schame (Lanz.2492) thus am I a the man RP ref. you call without shame

Thus, I am a man who …

Behaghel (1923) Deutsche Syntax I p. 137 Further evidence for a generalized correlative structure:


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