CP-recursion and the derivation of verb second in Germanic main and embedded clauses

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This paper will give an overview of the verb second (V2) phenomenon, as found in both main and embedded clauses in Germanic, and it will also explore a particular derivation of (embedded) V2, in terms of a cP/CP-distinction.

All the Germanic languages except modern English (but including e. g. Old English) are V2, i. e. in all declarative main clauses and in all wh-questions, the finite verb is in the second position, regardless of whether the first position is occupied by the subject or by some other constituent. This can be extended to yes/no-questions, provided it is assumed that the first position in such questions is empty (and such an assumption is supported by the fact that it allows an account for Greenberg’s 1963: 83 “Universal 11”, cf. Vikner 2007).

No particular type of embedded clause in Germanic ever requires V2, and although V2 is optionally possible in many embedded clauses, this is normally not the case for all types of embedded clauses, as e. g. embedded questions (almost) never allow V2 (Julien 2007, Vikner 2001, though see McCloskey 2006 and Biberauer 2015).

As in Nyvad et al. (2016), I will explore a particular derivation of (embedded) V2, in terms of a cP/CP-distinction, which may be seen as a version of the CP-recursion analysis (deHaan & Weerman 1986, Vikner 1995 and many others). The idea is that because embedded V2 clauses do not allow extraction, whereas other types of CP-recursion clauses do (Christensen et al. 2013a; Christensen et al. 2013b; Christensen & Nyvad 2014), CP-recursion in embedded V2 is assumed to be fundamentally diferent from other kinds of CP-recursion, in that main clause V2 and embedded V2 involve a CP (“big CP”), whereas other clausal projections above IP are instances of cP (“little cP”).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTwo perspectives on V2 : The invited talks of the DGfS 2016 workshop “V2 in grammar and processing: Its causes and its consequences"
EditorsConstantin Freitag, Oliver Bott, Fabian Schlotterbeck
Number of pages26
Place of publicationKonstanz
PublisherUniversität Konstanz
Publication year2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventDGsF 2016 Workshop on “V2 in grammar and processing: Its causes and its consequences” - Konstanz, Germany
Duration: 24 Feb 201626 Feb 2016


WorkshopDGsF 2016 Workshop on “V2 in grammar and processing: Its causes and its consequences”

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