Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 235–285 | Cite as

The syntax of Dutch embedded fragment answers: on the PF-theory of islands and the wh/sluicing correlation

  • Tanja Temmerman


This paper presents new evidence in favour of Merchant’s (2004, 2008) PF-theory of islands, which states that island-sensitivity is due to the presence of PF-uninterpretable traces at PF. This new evidence is provided by two types of Dutch embedded fragment answers: whereas one type is island-sensitive, the other one is not. The former differs from the latter in that it involves an extra movement step, leaving an extra trace. Moreover, this paper argues that the wh/sluicing correlation (van Craenenbroeck and Lipták 2006, 2009) makes the correct predictions regarding the (non-)embeddability of fragment answers in Dutch and English. The wh/sluicing correlation states that there is a correlation between the type of wh-movement a language exhibits and the types of clausal ellipsis attested in that language. I show that it follows straightforwardly that, unlike in Dutch, embedded fragment answers are not attested in English.


Fragment answer Sluicing Dutch English PF-theory of islands wh/sluicing correlation Syntax of [e]-feature 



I am very thankful to Hans Broekhuis for suggesting that Dutch embedded fragments could be an interesting research topic. Without him, this paper probably would not have been written. Furthermore, I am grateful for the encouragement and the valuable comments and suggestions of Johan Rooryck, Jeroen van Craenenbroeck, Jason Merchant, Sjef Barbiers, Kyle Johnson, Peter Svenonius, Marcel den Dikken, Marjo Van Koppen, Norbert Corver, Bettina Gruber, Andrés Saab, Erik Schoorlemmer, Anikó Lipták, Gary Thoms, Eefje Boef, Liliane Haegeman, Lobke Aelbrecht, the audiences of the TIN-day 2009 (Utrecht), the 24th Comparative Germanic Syntax Workshop (Brussels), the 4th Brussels Conference on Generative Linguistics, ConSOLE XVIII (Barcelona), the 28th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (Los Angeles), and the 33rd GLOW Colloquium (Wroclaw), and the anonymous NLLT reviewers. All errors and shortcomings are my own.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LUCLLeidenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Facultés Universitaires Saint-LouisBrusselsBelgium
  3. 3.CRISSP/Hogeschool-Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium

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