Relative Clauses as Definites

  • Veneeta Dayal
Part of the Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy book series (SLAP, volume 62)


The focus of this chapter is the semantics of correlatives. It takes as its point of departure the claim in Chapter V that a relative clause leftadjoined to IP is coindexed with a DP in the main clause and that this instantiates an operator-variable relation. In this chapter the semantics associated with this relation is made explicit. Treating the relative clause as a generalized quantifier and the main clause DP as a variable, I show how the two combine via standard rules of quantification. I also introduce here the phenomena of multiple wh correlatives, structures in which more than one wh expression in the relative clause is coindexed with the corresponding number of demonstratives in the main clause. I show that single wh and multiple wh correlatives have behavior parallel to single wh and multiple wh questions. By extending the semantics for questions developed in Chapter IV, I account for the uniqueness/maximality effects in single wh correlatives and the functional relations in multiple wh correlatives. I then show how tense and aspect impacts upon these interpretations. Finally, I connect correlatives with relative clauses with similar semantics in other languages. The main point I establish in this chapter is that relative clauses in natural language function not only as noun modifiers and appositives but also as definites.


Relative Clause Main Clause Unique Individual Common Noun Free Relative 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Veneeta Dayal
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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