11 Wh- movement

Old version (Fall 2006) - current version under construction

In this chapter, we introduce a type of movement that differs from the ones discussed so far (subject movement, subject raising, passive). First, it affects not just DPs, but maximal projections of many syntactic categories. Second, the landing site for the moved constituent is outside of IP. Because this type of movement is involved in the derivation of wh- questions, it is known as wh- movement.

This chapter is devoted to motivating wh- movement and presenting a basic range of empirical phenomena associated with it. In particular, we review an influential set of structural conditions under which wh- movement is ungrammatical, the so-called island constraints of Ross 1967. Having established that wh- movement is subject to the island constraints in questions (see Questions for some basic information about questions), we then use the constraints as a diagnostic that certain further constructions in English, including relative clauses and so-called topicalization, are derived by wh- movement as well.

Evidence for a movement analysis of questions


As the presence of the complementizer if in the indirect question in (1) shows, the verb wonder takes a CP complement.

(1)     They wonder if the lions will devour the wildebeest.

The elementary trees for wonder and if are given in (2a,b), and the entire tree for (1) is given in (2c).

(2) a.      b.      c.  

Now consider the indirect question in (3), which begins with a wh- phrase (a maximal projection) rather than with a complementizer (a head).

(3)     They wonder which wildebeest the lions will devour.

Let's adopt the null hypothesis that wonder is associated with the same elementary tree in (3) as in (1)—namely, with (2a). Since (3) contains no overt complementizer, the CP tree that substitutes into the complement node of the elementary tree for wonder must then be the projection of a silent complementizer. For reasons to be given shortly, we take this complementizer to be a silent counterpart of that. In deriving the tree for (3), a further difficulty remains concerning the wh- phrase which wildebeest. On the one hand, the wh- phrase must be the object of devour, just as in (1), because devour is obligatorily transitive. But on the other hand, the wh- phrase precedes the subject of the subordinate clause rather than following the verb. As usual when we are confronted with a mismatch of this sort, we invoke movement in order to allow a single phrase to simultaneously play several roles in a sentence. Specifically, we will have the wh- phrase originate as the sister of the verb whose object it is and then move to Spec(CP). This allows us to accommodate the word order in (3), while maintaining that devour is a transitive verb regardless of what clause type (declarative or interrogative) it happens to occur in. The resulting structure for (3) is shown in (4).


The argument just presented is based on the obligatorily transitive character of devour, but it can be extended straightforwardly to other syntactic relations. For instance, we have chosen to represent the modification relation structurally by having the modifier adjoin at the intermediate projection of the modifiee. Accordingly, the adverb phrase unbelievably quickly adjoins at V' in (5a) since it modifies the verb devour. The corresponding wh- phrase how quickly modifies devour in (5b), so it needs to adjoin to V' as well, but it precedes the subject. Again, the mismatch between the position where the phrase is interpreted and where it is pronounced can be resolved by movement of the modifier, as shown in (6).

(5) a.   The lions will devour the wildebeest unbelievably quickly.
b. They wonder how quickly the lions will devour the wildebeest.

Why a silent complementizer?

Let's turn now to the question of why we treat the complementizer in (4) and in (6) as as a silent counterpart of that. There are several reasons. First, Middle English (1150–1500) routinely allowed (though it did not require) overt that as the syntactic head of indirect wh- questions. The examples in (7) are from the Penn-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Middle English. (7e) shows that that alternated with its silent counterpart even for individual authors.

(7) a.   First the behoueth to knowe why that suche a solitary lyf was ordeyned. (cmaelr4.m4, 13)
'First, it behooves thee to know why such a solitary life was ordained.'
b.   … he wiste wel hymself what that he wolde answere … (cmctmeli.m3, 75)
'he himself knew well what he would answer'
c. for ye han ful ofte assayed … how wel that I kan hyde and hele thynges (cmctmeli.m3, 149)
'for you have very often determined how well I can hide and conceal things'
d. I wolde fayn knowe how that ye understonde thilke wordes (cmctmeli.m3, 408)
'I would like to know how you understand these words'
e. And forther over, it is necessarie to understonde whennes that synnes spryngen, and how they encreessen (cmctpars.m3, 352)
'And moreover, it is necessary to understand where sins come from, and how they increase'
f. Now shal ye understonde in what manere that synne wexeth or encreesseth in man. (cmctpars.m3, 390)
'Now you shall understand in what manner sin grows or increases in man.'
g. The fifthe circumstaunce is how manye tymes that he hath synned … and how ofte that he hath falle. (cmctpars.m3, 1503)
'The fifth circumstance is how many times he has sinned … and how often he has fallen.'
h. lettyng hym wytte in what plytte that they stode yn (cmgregor.m4, 343)
'letting him know what plight they were in'
i. I pray you telle me what knyght that ye be (cmmalory.m4, 4655)
'Please tell me what knight you are'

Second, the variety of English spoken at present in Belfast resembles Middle English in this respect (Henry 1995:107).

(8) a.   I wonder which dish that they picked.
b.   They didn't know which model that we had discussed.

Third, wh- phrases followed by that continue to be attested in the unplanned usage of speakers of modern standard English, as shown in (9) (Radford 1988:500 also gives examples).

(9) a. That tells you how many days that the car will be in the shop.
(Kroch 1989:95, fn. 4, (i))
b. Immediately, I saw which one that you wanted me to read.
(Beatrice Santorini, in conversation, September 1998)
c.   I realized how interesting that it was.
(Clara Orsitti, interviewed by Vicky Barker, World Update, National Public Radio, 25 January 1999)
d.   I've got to go through them and see what order that we'll discuss them in.
(Beatrice Santorini, in conversation, November 1999)
e.   Most of my colleagues were amazed how quickly that I recovered.
(advertisement for Temple University Hospital, WRTI, 24 November 1999)
f.   It could be that that is why that they were understood. (high-low-high intonation on why)
(Joanna Labov, doctoral dissertation defense, 4 May 2000)
g.   These recounts will determine how much of a pick-up that we will have," said Democratic National Committee Chairman Joe Andrew."
h.   to find out what kind of a house that she was looking for
(Amy Forsyth, in conversation, 23 Sep 2004)
i.   I don't know what floor that it is
(overheard at the Down Home Diner, Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia, PA, 15 January 2005)
j.   I would tell them how that they should solve their problems (high-low-high intonation on how
(overheard at 4th and Pine Streets, Philadelphia, PA, 5 March 2005)
k.   It might be worth thinking about what kinds of comments that there are.
(Beatrice Santorini, in conversation, February 2006)
l.   Whatever stuff that you found, send me the link.
(Beatrice Santorini, in conversation, August 2006)
m.   I realize how many people that I've forgotten to put on my list.
(overheard at 2044 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 13 August 2006)
n.   He talks about how profound that he thinks it is.
(overheard at Whole Foods, 10th and South Streets, Philadelphia, PA, 13 October 2006)
o.   I don't know what kind of food that they've been used to.
(overheard at pet store, 2024 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 22 October 2006)
p.   It doesn't matter how long that [how much time - BES] I have in the program.
(overheard at 2044 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 29 October 2006)
q.   I just didn't realize how much that I beat myself emotionally to a pulp.
(overheard in East Dorset, VT, 10 November 2006)
r.   ... tells them which of these things that they're dealing with.
(Mark Steedman, Linguistics Speaker Series talk, 30 November 2006)

Finally, sequences of wh- phrase + overt complementizer in indirect questions occur in languages other than English. The complementizer in question is generally the counterpart of that, but the counterpart of if is attested as well.

(10) Bavarian (Bayer 1983-4:212, (8a-d))
I woass ned wer dass des  toa  hod.
I know  not who that  that done has
'I don't know who did that.'
... wos  dass ma toa soin.
    what that we  do  should
'... what we should do.'
... wann dass da  Xaver kumt
    when that  the       comes
'... when Xaver is coming.'
... wiavui   dass a  kriagt.
    how much  that he gets
'... how much he gets.'
(11) Dutch (den Besten 1989:23, (21b))
... welk  boek (of) hij wil   lezen
    which book  if   he  wants read
'... which book he wants to read'

Case checking

A further argument for wh- movement, similar to the one based on complementation, can be constructed on the basis of case theory. Consider the contrast in (12), which reflects the fact that finite I checks nominative, not objective case (the relevant I is the one in the complement clause).

(12) a.   She thinks he will come.
b. * She thinks him will come.

Now consider the contrast in (13), where the nominative form who is grammatical in standard English, but the objective form whom is not.

(13) a.   I wonder who she thinks will come.
b. * I wonder whom she thinks will come.

How is case checked on the nominative form who in (13a)? We would like to maintain the generalization that nominative case is checked in a spec-head configuration with finite I. But case on who cannot be checked by the I closest to it, the present tense morpheme of the thinks clause. First of all, this would leave nominative case on she unchecked. Moreover, if wh- phrases move to Spec(CP), as we have been assuming, then who is not in a spec-head configuration with the I of the thinks clause. Again, the solution to this case-checking puzzle is to invoke movement. Given the structure for (13a) in (14), nominative case on who can be checked by will before who moves to the Spec(CP) of the thinks clause.

(14)     I wonder [CP whoi [IP she thinks [CP [IP ti will come ] ] ] ] .

The reason that (13b) is ungrammatical is that objective case cannot be checked in the subject position of the thinks clause. Under a movement analysis, then, the contrast in (13) is parallel to that in (12) - -a simple and intuitively appealing result.

The facts just discussed illustrate an important difference between wh- movement on the one hand and subject raising and passive on the other. In instances of subject raising and passive, the noun phrase undergoing movement originates in a non-case-checking position and moves to a subject position, motivated either by considerations of case-checking or by the subject requirement. By contrast, a noun phrase undergoing wh- movement moves from a case-checking position to Spec(CP), a non-case-checking position.

A related difference concerns the categorial status of constituents undergoing wh- movement. Constituents undergoing subject movement or passive are noun phrases, but ones undergoing wh- movement can be maximal projections of other categories, as illustrated in (16).

(16) a.   I wonder [AdjP how experienced ] they should be.
b. I wonder [AdvP how quickly ] the lions will devour the wildebeest.
c. I wonder [PP under which shell ] he hid the pea.

Direct wh- questions

We have argued that wh- phrases move to Spec(CP) in indirect questions. For reasons of uniformity, we assume that direct questions like those in (17) are derived by wh- movement as well.

(17) a.   [AdjP How experienced ] should they be?
b. [AdvP How quickly ] will the lions devour the wildebeest?
c. [PP Under which shell ] did he hide the pea?
d. [DP Which wildebeest ] will the lions devour?

As is evident from comparing the direct questions in (17) with their indirect question counterparts in (16) and in (3), movement to Spec(CP) in direct questions is accompanied by a second instance of movement. In particular, whatever occupies I moves to C, with the additional proviso that if I is occupied by a silent tense morpheme, as it is in (16c), it is replaced by the corresponding form of do, as in (17c). We postpone more detailed discussion of this head movement to C to Chapter 13 For the moment, we will simply assume that direct questions are projections of a silent morpheme that occupies C and that expresses interrogative force, represented in what follows by [?]. The structure that we assume for direct questions is illustrated for (17d) in (18). Note that just as in the case of verb movement from V to I discussed in Chapter 6, head movement to C involves both movement and adjunction.


The island constraints

Apparent unboundedness of wh- movement

Given that wh- phrases in direct and indirect questions occupy the position they do as a result of movement, the question arises of how far a wh- phrase can move from the position where it is interpreted. Examples like (19) suggest that the distance is in principle (that is, apart from performance considerations such as limitations on memory) unlimited, or unbounded. Examples like (19b–e), where a wh- phrase moves out of the CP in which it originates, are called long-distance wh- movement.

(19) a.   [CP Whati was he reading ti ] ?
b. [CP Whati did he say
[CP that he was reading ti ] ] ?
c. [CP Whati does she believe
[CP that he said
[CP that he was reading ti ] ] ] ?
d. [CP Whati are they claiming
[CP that she believes
[CP that he said
[CP that he was reading ti ] ] ] ] ?
e. [CP Whati do you think
[CP that they are claiming
[CP that she believes
[CP that he said
[CP that he was reading ti ] ] ] ] ] ?

A typology of islands

But Ross 1967 made the important discovery that contrary to what the pattern in (19) suggests, wh- movement is not in fact unbounded. For instance, although wh- movement out of that clause complements to verbs is grammatical, as shown in (19b–e), wh- movement out of that clause complements to nouns is not, as shown in (20) and (21). In the next few examples, the heads associated with the complement clauses are underlined.

Noun complement:
(20) a.   He made the claim [ that he has met Subcomandante Marcos ] .
b. * [ Who ]i did he make the claim [ that he has met ti ] ?
(21) a.   He mentioned the fact [ that he had run into Julia Roberts ] .
b. * [ Which celebrity ]i did he mention the fact [ that he had run into ti ] ?

Particularly striking is the contrast between (20b) and (21b) on the one hand and the essentially synonymous examples in (22) on the other.

(22) a. [ Who ]i did he claim [ that he has met ti ] ?
b. [ Which celebrity ]i did he mention [ that he had run into ti ] ?

Ross introduced the term island to refer to constructions that do not allow a wh- phrase to 'escape' from them (the idea behind the metaphor is that the wh- phrase is marooned on the island). Besides complement clauses to nouns, Ross identified several other types of islands: indirect questions, relative clauses (often subsumed together with noun complement clauses under the rubric of complex noun phrases, but more insightfully kept distinct), sentential subjects, so-called left branches (= specifiers) of noun phrases, and coordinate structures. We illustrate each of these types of island in turn.

(23) illustrates the island character of indirect questions.

Be sure to interpret How in (23b) as modifying the complement verb solve, as indicated by the trace, not the matrix verb forgotten. In other words, a possible answer to (23b) is by Fourier analysis, but not by succumbing to Alzheimer's.

Wh- complement:
(23) a.   They have forgotten [ which problem they should solve by Fourier analysis ] .
b. * Howi have they forgotten [ which problem they should solve ti ] ?

In (23b), it is important to carefully distinguish the movement of which problem in the subordinate clause from that of how in the matrix clause. The movement of which problem creates an island, but is itself licit. What is ungrammatical is the further movement of how from its original position modifying solve to a position ``off island.'' In other words, wh- movement is grammatical within the confines of an island, but not beyond its boundaries.1

(24) and (25) illustrate the island character of relative clauses and sentential subjects.

Relative clause:
(24) a.   They met someone [ { who, that } knows Julia Roberts ] .
b. * [ Which celebrity ]i did they meet someone [ { who, that } knows ti ] ?
Sentential subject:
(25) a.   [ That he has met Subcomandante Marcos ] is extremely unlikely.
b. * Whoi is [ that he has met ti ] extremely unlikely?

Finally, (26) and (27) illustrate the island character of left branches of noun phrases and coordinate structures. The ungrammaticality of the questions is particularly striking because they are so much shorter and structurally simpler than the grammatical questions in (19b-e).

Left branch of noun phrase:
(26) a.   She bought [ Jonathan's ] book .
b. * [ Whose ]i did she buy [ ti ] book ?
Coordinate structure:
(27) a.   They ordered [ tiramisu and espresso ] .
b. * [ Which dessert ]i did they order [ ti and espresso ] ?
c. * [ Which beverage ]i did they order [ tiramisu and ti ] ?

Other instances of wh- movement

We turn now to some further constructions in English that are derived by wh- movement. These include various types of relative clauses as well as so-called topicalization.

Wh- relative clauses

As (28) and (29) show, there is a striking parallel in English between questions and wh- relative clauses: both are introduced by wh- phrases.

(28) a.   Who moved in next door? (29) a.   the people who moved in next door
b. Who(m) did you see? b.   the people who(m) you saw
c. Where did you see them? c.   the place where you met them
d. Which do you prefer? d.   the movie which you prefer
e. Whose parents did you meet? e.   the girl whose parents you met

This parallel suggests a wh- movement analysis for relative clauses, and this idea is reinforced by the fact that wh- relative clauses exhibit the entire range of island effects, as illustrated in (30).2

(30) a. Noun complement: * the revolutionary whoi I don't believe the claim [ that he has met ti ]
b. Wh- complement: * the method [ by which ]i they have forgotten [ which problem they should solve ti ]
c. Relative clause: * the revolutionary whoi I dislike the journalist [ who interviewed ti for CNN ]
d. Sentential subject: * the addiction whichi [ { that he admitted, admitting } ti ] nearly destroyed his career
e. Left branch of noun phrase: * the girl whosei you met [ ti parents ]
f. Coordinate structure: * the dessert whichi you ordered [ { coffee and ti, ti and coffee } ]

The facts just reviewed follow straightforwardly if we assume that wh- relative clauses are CPs. The wh- relative pronoun moves to Spec(CP), and the syntactic head of the clause is a silent complementizer, just as in an indirect question. The structure of the relative clause in (29b) is given in (31a), and adjoining the relative clause so that it modifies the noun people yields the structure in (31b).

(31) a.       b.  

That relative clauses

In addition to wh- relative clauses, English also has that relative clauses, as illustrated in (32).

(32) a.   the people that moved in next door
b.   the people that you saw
c.   the place that you met them
d.   the movie that you prefer

Structurally, that relative clauses are completely parallel to wh- relative clauses. But in contrast to wh- relative clauses, it is the complementizer that is overt in that relative clauses, and the wh- element that is silent. The structures corresponding to those in (31) are given in (33).

(33) a.       b.  

It is worth noting that there are speakers for whom that has developed from a complementizer into a relative pronoun. The evidence for this is that such speakers produce a possessive form of that that is analogous to whose, as illustrated in (34a) and in the naturally occurring (34b).

(34) a. % the girl that's parents you met (is going to be your roommate)
b. % "... we want them to bring a product to market that's time had not yet come," said Ray Farhung, a Southern California Edison official.
(Bill Vlasic, "Cool Contest", The Detroit News, p. 1D, January 10, 1993; from a Linguist List posting by John Lawler)

Doubly marked relative clauses

Given the discussion so far, we would expect to find relative clauses with an overt wh- element in Spec(CP) combined with an overt complementizer, as in (35).

(35)     the people who(m) that you saw

Such doubly marked relative clauses are judged to be unacceptable in modern standard English. However, just like doubly marked indirect questions, they are attested in Middle English and in vernacular varieties of other languages, as shown in (36) (from the Penn-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Middle English) and (37).

(36) a.   thy freend which that thou has lorn (cmctmeli.m3, 31)
'your friend that you have lost'
b. the conseil which that was yeven to yow by the men of lawe and the wise folk (cmctmeli.m3, 373)
'the counsel that was given to you by the men of law and the wise folk'
c. the seconde condicion which that the same Tullius addeth in this matiere (cmctmeli.m3, 430)
'the second condition that the same Tullius adds in this matter'
d. for hire olde freendes which that were trewe and wyse (cmctmeli.m3, 434)
'for her old friends who were loyal and wise'
e. the fire of angre and of wratthe, which that he sholde quenche (cmctpars.m3, 859)
'the fire of anger and wrath, which he should quench'
f. a squyer, whyche that was a grete captayne (cmgregor.m4, 1333)
'a squire, who was a great captain'

Bavarian (Bayer 1983-4:213, (10a,b))
(37) a.  
der Hund der wo   gestern   d'  Katz bissn  hod
the dog  who that yesterday the cat  bitten has
'the dog that bit the cat yesterday'
die Frau  dera    wo   da Xaver a Bussl g'gem hod
the woman who.dat that the      a kiss  given has
'the woman that Xaver gave a kiss'

What these facts suggest is that doubly marked wh- movement constructions (both relative clauses and indirect questions) are grammatical (= well-formed from a purely structural point of view). However, the status of these constructions as complement clauses is marked both by the movement of the wh- phrase and by the presence of the complementizer, and it may be that a stylistic constraint against redundant marking has developed that keeps these constructions from occurring in the modern literary varieties of English and other languages.

Zero relative clauses

Given the availability of silent wh- elements and silent complementizers in English, we would expect to find relative clauses that are not introduced by any overt element at all. Such so-called zero relative clauses (also known as contact relative clauses) are indeed possible in English, as shown in (38).

(38) a.   the people ___ you saw
b.   the place ___ you met them
c.   the movie ___ you prefer

Given the grammaticality of (38), the status of the zero relative variants of subject relative clauses like (29a) and (32a) is puzzling. In general, these are unacceptable, as shown in (39c).

(39) a. the people who moved in next door (are from Illinois)
b. the people that moved in next door (are from Illinois)
c. * the people ___ moved in next door (are from Illinois)

However, structurally analogous examples do occur in English, as illustrated in (40).

(40) a.   Everybody ___ lives in the mountains has an accent all to theirself.
(Christian and Wolfram 1976, front matter)
b.   Three times a day some nurse ___ looks like Pancho Villa shoots sheep cum into my belly.
(Hiaasen 1995: 248-249)

(41) and (42) give further examples from Belfast English (Henry 1995:125) and American English, classified by linguistic environment.

Existential there clause: (41) a.   There's a shortcut ___ takes you to the shops.
It cleft: b.   It was John ___ told us about it.
Copular construction: c.   John is the person ___ could help you with that.
Introduction of discourse entity in object position: d.   I met a man ___ can speak five languages.
Existential there clause: (42) a.   "Thanks for the hurricane, there's a hundred fifty thousand houses in Dade County ___ need new roofs," he began.
(Hiaasen 1995:110-111)
It cleft: b.   'Tis grace ___ hath brought me safe thus far (Amazing Grace)
Copular construction: c.   You're the second guy this month ___ wants to take out trade in this bizarre fashion.
(Wagner 1986:119)
d.   He's the one ___ inspected the damn things.
(Hiaasen 1995:5)
Introduction of discourse entity in object position: e.   how come we have … a pink-haired punk granddaughter ___ got the manners of a terrorist? … Wears somethin' ___ makes the garage door flap up?
(Wagner 1986:81)

The proper analysis of such examples is not clear and goes beyond the scope of this textbook. On the one hand, it has been argued that zero subject relative clauses are grammatical, but avoided for parsing reasons, especially when they modify a noun that is itself part of a subject, as in (40) (Bever and Langendoen 1971, especially Section 5; see also Doherty 1993). On the other hand, Henry 1995 argues against a wh- movement analysis of zero relative clauses.


A further instance of a construction involving wh- movement is so-called topicalization.

The sentences in (43) are in so-called canonical order; that is, the subject (in boldface) occupies clause-initial position.

(43) a.   They should solve the more difficult problem for next class.
b. They don't believe that he has met Subcomandante Marcos.
c. We heartily detest Julia's parents.
d. A single lion can devour a little wildebeest like that in under an hour.
e. I recognize this kind of situation from my previous job.

By contrast, in (44), a nonsubject (in italics) precedes the subject (again in boldface).

(44) a.   For next class, they should solve the more difficult problem.
b. Subcomandante Marcos, they don't believe that he has met.
c. Julia's parents, we heartily detest.
d. A little wildebeest like that, a single lion can devour in under an hour.
e. This kind of situation, I recognize from my previous job.

Clause-initial nonsubjects are often discourse topics, and the movement illustrated in (44) has therefore come to be known as topicalization. We use the term because it is standard in the literature, but hasten to point out that it is not entirely felicitous, since clause-initial nonsubjects are by no means always topics (in the sense of being previously mentioned discourse entities). Often, for instance, they are scene-setting expressions, as in (45a,b), or they may serve a contrastive function, as in (45c).

(45) a. On the way home, he ran into Murgatroyd.
b. In Brazil, such situations are not common.
c. Under other conditions, I would agree to your request.

In an influential article, Chomsky 1977 argued that topicalization should be analyzed on a par with wh- movement on the grounds that topicalization obeys the island constraints, as illustrated in (46).

(46) a. Wh- complement: * [ For next class, ]i they have forgotten [ which problem they should solve ti ] .
b. Noun complement: * [ Subcomandante Marcos, ]i they don't believe the claim [ that he has met ti ] .
c. Relative clause: * [ Subcomandante Marcos, ]i I dislike the journalist [ who interviewed ti for CNN ]
d. Sentential subject: * [ His addiction to gambling, ]i [ { that he admitted, admitting } ti ] nearly destroyed his career.
e. Left branch of noun phrase: * [ Julia's, ]i we heartily detest [ ti parents ] .
f. Coordinate structure: * [ Tiramisu, ]i two people ordered [ { coffee and ti, ti and coffee } ] .

Following Chomsky's usage, the term wh- movement is often used to refer to any instance of movement to Spec(CP), regardless of whether the moved constituent is a wh- phrase. More recently, the less confusing term operator movement has gained currency as a general term for movement to Spec(CP), subsuming wh- movement (in its original sense) and topicalization.

The structure for (45c) under (an updated version of) the analysis in Chomsky 1977 is given in (47); note that the CP is headed by an empty head entitled, for convenience, [top].3



1. In more precise structural terms (discussed in more detail in Chapter 12), an island is a constituent dominated by some node. In (23), the node in question is the CP dominating the indirect question, but for generality, let's refer to the relevant node as the island node. Wh- movement is grammatical as long as the moved phrase (the head of the movement chain) remains dominated by the island node, but becomes ungrammatical once that is no longer the case.

2. In (30c), be careful to distinguish the two instances of wh- movement: the lower one within the interviewed clause, which is grammatical and creates the relative clause island, and the higher one within the dislike clause, which is one that causes the ungrammaticality.

3. According to a competing analysis, topicalization is also derived by movement, but the moved constituent adjoins to IP rather than substituting into Spec(CP). This alternative structure for (45c) under this analysis is then as in (i).


Exercises and problems

Exercise 11.1

Treat your as the spellout of you and a silent possessive morpheme.

A. Using the all purpose grammar tool, build structures for both of the direct questions in (1).

(1) a. Pied piping In which house does your friend live?
b. Preposition stranding Which house does your friend live in?

B. Using the all purpose grammar tool, build structures for the sentences in (2), which contain indirect questions (delimited by square brackets) that correspond to the direct questions in (1).

(2) a. Pied piping I forget [ in which house your friend lives. ]
b. Preposition stranding I forget [ which house your friend lives in. ]

Exercise 11.2

A. Using the all purpose grammar tool, build structures for the noun phrases in (1).

(1) a. Pied piping   the house [ in which your friend lives ]
b. Preposition stranding   the house [ which your friend lives in ]

B. Using the same grammar tool as in (A), build structures for the noun phrases in (2)-(5).

To save trees in more than one sense of the word, feel free to build a single structure for several structurally parallel examples. Be sure to indicate clearly which sentences each structure is intended to represent, and how the variants differ.

Build structures for all examples, including the ungrammatical ones.

Treat whose as the conventional orthographic representation of who + 's.

In (3), the position of silent elements is indicated by underlining. In all other examples, silent elements may be present without being explicitly indicated.

(2) a. Wh- relative clause ok the guy [ who they met ]
b. That relative clause ok the guy [ that they met ]
c. Zero relative clause ok the guy [ they met ]
(3) a. Wh- relative clause ok the guy [ whose parents ___ they met ]
b. That relative clause * the guy [ ___'s parents that they met ]
Intended meaning: (3a)
c. Zero relative clause * the guy [ ___'s parents ___ they met ]
Intended meaning: (3a)
(4) a. That relative clause, pied piping * the house [ in that your friend lives ]
Intended meaning: (1a)
b. That relative clause, preposition stranding ok the house [ that your friend lives in ]
(5) a. Zero relative clause, pied piping * the house [ in your friend lives ]
Intended meaning: (1a)
b. Zero relative clause, preposition stranding ok the house [ your friend lives in ]

C. Formulate a single structural generalization that accounts for the ungrammaticality of (3b,c), (4a), and (5a).

The generalization in (C) is independent of the island constraints; you'll have to make one up on your own.

If you use the notion of 'pied piping' in your generalization (you don't need to), be sure to give a precise definition of it.

Exercise 11.3

According to analysis of relative clauses proposed in this chapter, that relative clauses like the italicized sequence in (1) have the structure in (2a). However, since the wh- phrase is silent, an alternative analysis of (1) is possible in principle, according to which the wh- phrase remains in its original position, as shown in (2b). Provide empirical (= data-based) evidence that the movement analysis in (2a) is preferable. For the purposes of this exercise, ignore coordinate structures.

(1)     the people that you saw
(2) a.       b.  
Movement No movement

Exercise 11.4

A. Using the all purpose grammar tool, build structures for the sentences in (1).

Don't build structures for the parenthesized sentences; they are only provided for context.

Assume a wh- movement analysis of topicalization presented in the text, not the IP adjuction analysis mentioned in Note 3.

(1) a.   In Brazil, he has seen such orchids (but never anywhere else).
b. The exam, she should finish immediately.
(The assignment, she can hand in later.)
c.   Under those circumstances, she will agree.

Exercise 11.5

A. Paraphrase the ambiguous telegraphese question in (1a) (Pinker 1994:119). Indicate clearly which paraphrase expresses the reporter's intended interpretation and which expresses the wickedly clever twist that Cary Grant gave the question. Your paraphrase doesn't have to be in telegraphese.

(1) a.   Reporter's telegram: How old Cary Grant?
b.   Grant's reply: Old Cary Grant fine.

B. The sentence in (2) (from an Internet movie database) is structurally ambiguous. Explain, using paraphrase or other means.

(2)     In "What Women Want," Mel Gibson plays a man who develops the ability to understand what women are thinking after a freak accident.

C. Using the all purpose grammar tool, build structures for each of the interpretations in (A) and (B), indicating clearly which structure goes with which interpretation.

Make up silent lexical items as needed in (A).

To save time and space in (B), free free to build chunks and indicate how they go together.

Exercise 11.6

A. In addition to the finite indirect questions in (1), English also has nonfinite ones, as illustrated in (2). Using the all purpose grammar tool, build structures for all of the nonfinite indirect questions in (2), including the ungrammatical (2c).

(1) a. They know [ who they should invite. ]
b. They know [ which topic they should talk about. ]
c. They know [ who should speak. ]
(2) a. They know [ who to invite. ]
b. They know [ which topic to talk about. ]
c. * They know [ who to speak. ]
Intended meaning: (1c)

B. Why is (2c) ungrammatical?

Exercise 11.7

Using the all purpose grammar tool, build the structure for the noun phrase containing the nonstandard relative clause in (1).

(1)     a product that's time has come

Problem 11.1

Can you think of evidence bearing on whether topicalization should be treated as substitution in Spec(CP) or adjunction to IP (see Note 3)?