The importance of being a complement: CED effects revisited

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This dissertation revisits subject island effects (Ross 1967, Chomsky 1973) cross-linguistically. Controlled acceptability judgment studies in German, English, Japanese and Serbian suggest that extraction out of specifiers is consistently degraded compared to extraction out of complements, indicating that the Condition on Extraction domains (CED, Huang 1982) is still empirically viable, contrary to recent claims (Stepanov 2007). As a consequence, recent treatments of the CED in terms of Multiple Spell-Out (Uriagereka 1999) are still tenable. First, a series of NP-subextraction experiments in German using was für-split is discussed. The results indicate that subject island effects cannot be reduced to freezing effects (Wexler & Culicover 1981). Extraction out of in-situ subjects is degraded compared to extraction out of in-situ objects. Freezing incurs an additional cost, i.e., extraction out of moved domains is degraded compared to in-situ domains. Further results from German indicate that extraction out of in-situ unaccusative and passive subjects is en par with extraction out of objects, while extraction out of in-situ transitive and intransitive unergative subjects causes a decrease in acceptability. Additionally, extraction out of indirect objects is degraded compared to extraction out of direct objects. It is also observed that a second gap improves the acceptability of otherwise illicit was für-split, a phenomenon dubbed Across-the-Board (ATB)-was für-splitand analysed in terms of Sideward Movement (Hornstein & Nunes 2002). Furthermore, wh-extraction out of non-finite sentential arguments also shows a significant subject/object asymmetry. Experiments in English indicate that NP-subextraction yields the familiar subject/object asymmetry, while the contrast largely disappears when PPs are fronted. Further results show that ECM and passive predicates do not improve the acceptability of the extraction out of subjects. Finally, subject subextraction patterns in Japanese and Serbian are investigated. Both Long-distance scrambling and clefting out of sentential subjects in Japanese leads to a stronger degradation than out of sentential objects. PP-extraction in Serbian also shows the same subject/object asymmetry, while no such contrast is found for Left Branch Extraction.