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Crysmann, Berthold & Reintges, Chris H.: The Polyfunctionality of Coptic Egyptian Relative Complementisers

The present study is concerned with the complex ways in which alternating relative complementisers in Coptic are employed as a morphological flagging device for unbounded dependencies in various types of relative clause constructions and wh questions. We shall argue in particular that the alternation in shape is locally conditioned by properties of the complement (TAME) and the antecedent noun (definiteness), which can be modelled via selectional features such as COMPS and MOD, plus the prosodic status of right-adjacent material (phrase vs. clitic). We shall show that all applicable conditions carry over from relatives to wh in-situ, suggesting to model the polyfunctionality of these complementisers in terms a systematic alternation between resumptive SLASH and in-situ QUE dependencies, modelled in terms of a lexical rule.

Furthermore, we shall discuss the status of unbounded dependencies and argue that the pervasiveness of resumption with relatives and ex-situ wh arguments can be attributed to the absence of gap-synsem on ARG-ST . We shall argue that apparent subject “gaps” in relative constructions are of a highly local nature, best to be understood in terms of subcategorisation for a finite VP complement. Finally, we shall show that the ban on argument gaps does not carry over to wh ex-situ adjuncts, providing additional motivation for maintaining a systematic distinction between these two types of extraction.


Maintained by Stefan Müller

Created: October 24, 2014
Last modified: January 09, 2019

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