Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Extraposition is disappearing

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Joel Wallenberg



This is the final published version of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Linguistic Society of America, 2016.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


© 2016. This study describes a change in which relative clause extraposition is in the process of being lost in English, Icelandic, French, and Portuguese. This current change in progress has never been observed before, probably because it is so slow that it is undetectable without the aid of multiple diachronic parsed corpora (treebanks) with time depths of over 500 years each. Building on insights from Kiparsky (1995), the study shows that the change may date as far back as the innovation of Proto-Germanic and Proto-Romance relative clauses, as these varieties differentiated from Proto-Indo-European. It also shows that the unusually slow speed of the change is due to partial specialization of the construction along the dimension of prosodic weight, following the argument made at greater length in Fruehwald & Wallenberg 2016. Finally, the change is shown to have important consequences for the syntax of extraposition, supporting the adjunction analysis of Culicover and Rochemont (1990). The article also discusses the implications of Sauerland’s (2003) analysis of English relative clauses, and while modern English data supports his analysis, the diachronic extraposition data is not yet fine-grained enough to bear on the ‘raising’ analysis of relatives in general. This is identified as an important question for further research on this change.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wallenberg JC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Language

Year: 2016

Volume: 92

Issue: 4

Pages: e237-e256

Print publication date: 01/12/2016

Acceptance date: 10/08/2016

Date deposited: 11/06/2019

ISSN (print): 0097-8507

ISSN (electronic): 1535-0665

Publisher: Linguistic Society of America


DOI: 10.1353/lan.2016.0079


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Find at Newcastle University icon    Link to this publication