West Germanic Relativization Strategies: Operators and Resumptive Pronouns

Hans den Besten

University of Amsterdam
It is commonly assumed that relativization through WH-Movement and relativization by means of resumptive pronouns complement one another and constitute a minor +/-WH parameter in the broader field of relativization strategies -- the main reason being that resumptive pronoun languages do not (seem to) evidence subjacency effects. Nevertheless this statement has to be qualified in that there are +WH languages (such as nonstandard English) that resort to resumptive pronouns to remedy subjacency effects, while -WH languages may evidence gaps. Cf. Modern Hebrew "ha-ish she 'ani ohevet ('oto)" = 'the-man that I love.F (him)'.

West Germanic relativization on the whole seems to involve the WH Movement strategy (+/- empty operators), the sole exception being Yiddish, which seems to make use both of the WH Movement strategy (with overt WH elements) and of the resumptive pronoun strategy. However, also in the case of the latter strategy gaps are allowed. Cf. "der yid vos in Boston hobn mir *(im) gezen" ('the man WHAT in Boston have we *(him) seen') vs. "der yid vos mir hobn (im) gezen in Boston" ('the man WHAT we have (him) seen in Boston'). Also note the specialized complementizer "vos" ('what'), which in other West Germanic dialects signals an empty operator. However, also in indisputable WH Movement dialects (overt and 'hidden') resumptive pronouns can be found, due to short distance accessibility requirements regarding datives and possessives -- although it seems to be the case that even resumptive possessive pronouns are accessible in a limited sense.

Therefore, it is questionable whether the traditional distinction between the above-mentioned relativization strategies can be upheld.

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