“Relative pronouns” as agreeing complementizers: German welch-
Dalina Kallulli
January 2021

Studies on relative clauses have highlighted two opposing views on the nature of relativizing elements. On the one hand, Kayne (2010) has challenged the long held view, dating back to Klima (1964), that relative 'that' in English is a complementizer, arguing instead that it is a relative pronoun. In contrast, Pesetsky and Torrego (2006) argue that even (simplex) wh-relativizers, like 'who' and 'which' in English, are agreeing complementizers (see also Thornton and Crain 1994, Thornton 1995, Crain and Thornton 1998). Similarly, Bayer (2014:23) argues for Bavarian that “word-size wh-operators have syntactic as well as phonological properties of functional heads rather than genuine phrases”, and that “wh-words embrace the role of the complementizer”. Starting from some basic, though not much discussed, asymmetries between two sets of so-called relative pronouns in German, the novel claim I put forward is that the relativizer welch-, commonly rendered as 'who' or 'which' in English, is in fact a (agreeing) complementizer and not a relative pronoun, on a par with other simplex wh-elements, most notably 'was/wo', in (varieties of) German (Bayer 1984, 2002a,b, van Riemsdijk 1989, and references therein), and 'who' and 'which' in English (Pesetsky and Torrego 2006). Consequently, I argue for the fluidity of syntactic categories within a functional domain (specifically, the C-domain). Crucially, the analysis I put forth is only compatible with a non-head-raising analysis of relative clauses, whether in its external head variety, as assumed in Heim and Kratzer (1998) among others, or the matching analysis.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005681
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Bhatt, Rajesh; Frana, Ilaria; and Menéndez-Benito, Paula, "Making Worlds Accessible. Essays in Honor of Angelika Kratzer" (2020). Angelika Kratzer Festschrift. 1. https://scholarworks.umass.edu/ak_festsite_schrift/1
keywords: relative clauses, welch-, german, syntax
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