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Competing Motivations in Grammar and Usage$
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Brian MacWhinney, Andrej Malchukov, and Edith Moravcsik

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198709848

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198709848.001.0001

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A statistical model of competing motivations affecting relative clause extraposition in German

A statistical model of competing motivations affecting relative clause extraposition in German

Chapter:
(p.88) 6 A statistical model of competing motivations affecting relative clause extraposition in German
Source:
Competing Motivations in Grammar and Usage
Author(s):

Jan Strunk

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198709848.003.0006

Relative clause extraposition has been studied by both generativists and functionalists. Whereas generativists have concentrated on structural and semantic factors, such as syntactic locality, definiteness, and restrictiveness, functionalists have investigated surface‐oriented factors, like the length of the relative clause and the distance between it and its antecedent. Most studies, however, have only looked at individual factors and not tried to account for extraposition as a syntactic alternation using an integrated model. This chapter presents a statistical investigation of relative clause extraposition in German that considers multiple competing motivations in order to predict extraposition. It concludes that the decision whether to extrapose a relative clause cannot be attributed to only one factor and that multiple motivations have to be taken into account. It also reports on an acceptability study showing that constraints against extraposition can sometimes be overridden by increasing the antecedent's salience and the predictability of the relative clause.

Keywords:   relative clause extraposition, syntactic alternation, word order, multivariate statistical corpus investigation, acceptability study, weight, distance, definiteness, restrictiveness, syntactic locality

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