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Escape from the island. Grammaticality and (reduced) acceptability of wh-island violations in Danish.

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In the syntax literature, it is commonly assumed that a constraint on linguistic competence blocks extraction of wh-expressions (e.g. what or which book) from embedded questions, referred to as wh-islands. Furthermore, it is assumed that there is an argument/adjunct asymmetry in extraction from wh-islands. We report results from two acceptability judgment experiments on long and short wh-movement and wh-extraction from wh-islands in Danish. The results revealed four main findings: (1) No adjunct/argument asymmetry in extraction from wh-islands. (2) Long adjunct wh-movement is less acceptable than long argument wh-movement, and this difference is attributable to matrix verb compatibility and factivity, not D-linking. (3) Long movement reduces acceptability, but is more acceptable than island violations. (4) Training effects reveal that island violations, though degraded, are grammatical in Danish. Since the standard assumptions cannot account for the range of results, we argue in favor of a processing account referring to locality (processing domains) and working memory.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
Pages (from-to)51-70
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013

    Research areas

  • Language, Syntax, Acceptability, Learning effects, Training effects, wh-movement, D-linking, Parsing, locality, Extraction, grammaticality, psycholinguistics, Language comprehension, word order, Linguistics, Grammar, working memory

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