Workshop 'Internally Headed Relative Clauses'

Date: 25.10. - 27.10.2012
Venue: ZAS, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin
Organization: Manfred Krifka, Rainer Ludwig, Alexander Grosu, Mathias Schenner

Internally headed relative constructions pose a challenge for any theory of the syntax/semantics interface, as the internal head's overt position is inside the relative clause, whereas semantically it combines with material outside the relative clause. There are two major strategies to deal with such cases: One is to enrich the syntactic component of the grammar (e.g. by assuming a separate level of syntactic representation, typically called "Logical Form", as the input to semantic interpretation). The other is to enrich the semantic component to make it deliver correct interpretations for surface syntactic structures (e.g. by assuming type-shifting operations on
meanings). The ultimate goal of our research is to compare the two kinds of approaches with respect to the ease and accuracy with which they can be employed for describing and explaining the various IHRC data. A necessary first step is, however, to deepen our understanding of the phenomenon itself.

Among the particular questions we aim to pursue are the following:

  • What are the distributional, configurational and interpretational restrictions on IHRC in a given language? E.g. do IHRC belong to a certain register, are they the only or most common relativization strategy, are they restricted by certain properties of the head and/or its role in the relative clause? Do they exhibit the same or a different word order than main clauses or other subordinate clauses? Is the interpretation of the head (e.g. as (in)definite) influenced or determined by the fact that it occurs in an IHRC?
  • How can IHRC in a given language be analyzed in terms of one or the other aforementioned theoretical approaches?
  • In which ways do the internal heads (syntactically, semantically, ...) interact with a) their host clause (the IHRC), b) their determiner or specifier (if there is any), and c) the embedding clause? E. g. does the internal head occupy a special position inside the IHRC, or the usual position that it would have in a main clause? If a quantifier combines with the IHRC or internal head, is the quantificational domain restricted by the IHRC in total, or only by the head itself? Are IHRC signalled by special particles, morphemes or intonation?


  • Edith Aldridge
  • Alexander Grosu
  • Ken Hiraiwa
  • Koji Hoshi
  • Justin Cale Johnson
  • Fred Landman
  • Andrej Malchukov
  • Jae-Il Yeom

Call for further participants

There still are a few slots for presentations available. Potential contributors are invited to send an abstract to: ludwig(at)