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On Subjunctives and Islandhood

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Contribution to book (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2014
Author Baunaz Lena, Puskas Genoveva,
Project Une étude comparative des propriétés syntaxiques du subjonctif
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Contribution to book (peer-reviewed)

Book Variation within and across Romance Languages.
Editor , Côté Marie-Hélène and Eric Mathieu
Publisher John Benjamins, Amsterdam
Page(s) 233 - 253
ISBN 978 90 272 48527
Title of proceedings Variation within and across Romance Languages.


The paper discusses the relation between selection, subjunctive mood and extraction facts. We show that the degree of permeability observed in subjunctive clauses with respect to e.g. wh-extraction is apparent, and is only indirectly related to the indicative/subjunctive alternations. We examine different verb classes in French and show that the behaviour of various types of wh-phrases in extraction contexts is not directly linked to the mood of the embedded clause. We therefore propose (i) that the indicative-subjunctive distribution is a property of predicates which has to be distinguished from the property involved in complementizer selection. In a nutshell, in French, the subjunctive-indicative alternation can be accounted for in terms of the emotive–cognitive property of the matrix predicate; and (ii) that islands effects, that is, the degree of permeability of the embedded clauses can be related to the properties of the selected complementizer. In other words, the possibilities of extraction of a wh-phrase from an embedded clause can be accounted for by the size of the complementizer which acts as a more or less strong blocker for wh-extraction from the clause it selects. We therefore propose that mood “selection” and complementizer selection are two independent properties of the main predicate.