Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 61–98

The matching effect in resumption: A local analysis based on Case attraction and top-down derivation



In this paper we analyze a hitherto unstudied matching effect in resumptive relatives. In some languages where gaps and resumptives are in complementary distribution, the choice between the two strategies depends on the Case of the head noun: in Swiss German, the focus of our study, dative relativization requires resumptives; however, the resumptive is omitted if the head noun bears dative as well. This non-local dependency poses a serious challenge to local derivational bottom-up theories of syntax. We argue that a local solution is possible if the distribution of gaps and resumptives is reinterpreted in terms of Case attraction and the derivation unfolds top-down. Consequently, the relevant piece of information, the Case of the head noun, is available on the operator so that the choice between gaps and resumptives can be made without recourse to non-local devices. Gap relatives obtain in configurations where the Case attraction derivation converges while resumptives occur as a repair in derivations where Case attraction leaves a Case-probe unchecked. The matching effect falls out naturally as a subcase of Case attraction.


Relative clauses Resumption Case attraction Locality Top-down derivation Matching Hierarchy effects Swiss German 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PSL* Research University, Département d’études cognitives, Institut Jean NicodEcole Normale SupérieureParisFrance
  2. 2.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of LeipzigLeipzigGermany

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