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Linguistics Fridays: Kepler – Prepositions in Relative Clauses

February 26, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Preposition Placement in Wh-Relative Clauses Among Speakers of American English

Grady Kepler
UW-Madison, English

This study investigates acceptability judgements of native speakers of American English, specifically examining the preposition placement in wh-relative clauses. In wh-relative clauses, prepositions may be pied piped (e.g., To whom is she speaking?) or stranded (e.g., Who is she speaking to?) (Ross, 1986). Corpus analyses and introspection experiments have found that some PP types allow for both pied piped and stranded construction because they provide interpretable thematic information to the predicate (Hoffmann, 2005, 2006). One such PP type is instrumental PP adjuncts (e.g., the tools with which you bake/the tools which you bake with). However, based solely on corpus analyses, way PP adjuncts in wh-relative clauses (e.g., the ways in which…) are claimed to be ungrammatical when stranded. This hypothesis needed experimental validation. Therefore, this experiment analyzes the acceptability judgements of 20 native speakers of American English on the preposition placement in way PP adjuncts in wh-relative. The experiment crossed PP type (way or instrumental) and preposition placement (pied piped or stranded). The findings are in line with the hypothesis that stranded way PP adjuncts are ungrammatical in wh-relative clauses, which were rated significantly lower than other pied piped construction.

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February 26, 2021
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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