Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 249-287

First online:

On the operator freezing effect

  • Željko BoškovićAffiliated withDepartment of Linguistics, U-1145, University of Connecticut Email author 

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Based on a number of operations creating operator-variable chains, namely, wh-movement, focalization, topicalization, quantifier raising, and the NPI-licensing movement, the article argues that operators in operator-variable chains cannot undergo further operator movement. It is shown that the generalization in question can be deduced from Chomsky’s (2000, 2001a) Activation Condition. The article also discusses the contexts where Bulgarian, a multiple wh-fronting language, allows extraction out of wh-islands. A new generalization is proposed regarding the ability of languages like Bulgarian to violate the Wh-Island Constraint in the contexts in question, which dissociates it from multiple wh-fronting and ties it to a property of D, in particular, availability of affixal articles.


Activation condition Affixal articles Multiple wh-fronting Operator Superiority Wh-islands