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Linguistic Inquiry

Spring 2019, Vol. 50, No. 2, Pages 356-371
(doi: 10.1162/ling_a_00311)
© 2018 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In Defense of What(ever) Free Relative Clauses They Dismiss: A Reply to Donati and Cecchetto (2011)
Article PDF (103.34 KB)

I argue that the version of phrase structure theory proposed by Donati and Cecchetto (2011) falls short of accounting for the attested patterns of free relative clauses not only in English but crosslinguistically in general. In particular, I show that free relative clauses can be introduced not only by wh-words like what or where, which is what Donati and Cecchetto predict, but also by wh-phrases like what books or whatever books and their equivalents in other languages, which Donati and Cecchetto explicitly predict not to be possible.