Island Extractions in the Wild: A Corpus Study of Adjunct and Relative Clause Islands in Danish and English

Christiane Müller, Clara Ulrich Eggers

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Adjuncts and relative clauses are traditionally classified as strong islands for extraction across languages. However, the Mainland Scandinavian (MSc.) languages have been reported to differ from e.g., English in allowing extraction from adjunct and relative clauses. In order to investigate the distribution of possible island extractions in these languages based on naturally produced material, we conducted two exploratory corpus studies on adjunct and relative clause extraction in Danish and in English. Results suggest that both extraction from finite adjuncts and from relative clauses appears at a non-trivial rate in naturally produced Danish, which supports the claim that these structures are not strong islands in Danish. In English, we also found a non-trivial amount of examples displaying extraction from finite adjuncts, as well as a small number of cases of relative clause extraction. This finding presents a potential challenge to the claim that English differs from MSc. in never allowing extraction from strong islands. Furthermore, our results show that both languages appear to share certain trends that can be observed in the extraction examples regarding the type of extraction dependency, the type of adjunct clause featured in adjunct clause extraction, and the type of matrix predicate featured in relative clause extraction.
Original languageEnglish
Article number125
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2022


  • adjunct clauses
  • corpus study
  • Danish
  • English
  • islands
  • relative clauses


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