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Are doubly-filled COMPs governed by prosody in Swiss German? The chameleonic nature of dass ‘that’

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Contribution to book (peer-reviewed)
Author Schönenberger Manuela,
Project Studying Variation in Syntax: A Parsed Corpus of Swiss German
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Contribution to book (peer-reviewed)

Book Elements of Comparative Syntax: Theory and Description
Editor , Puskas Genoveva; , Schönenberger Manuela; , Haeberli Eric; , Aboh Enoch
Publisher Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin
Page(s) 185 - 220
ISBN 978-1-5015-0403-7
Title of proceedings Elements of Comparative Syntax: Theory and Description
DOI 10.1515/9781501504037-007

Open Access


This paper examines the distribution of doubly-filled COMPs in wh-complement clauses in spontaneous production data from a variety of Swiss German. In these data, clauses introduced by a monosyllabic wh-constituent generally occur without 'dass', while those with non-monosyllabic wh-constituents mostly occur with 'dass'. It is shown that a purely syntactic approach cannot account for the data and that prosody seems to play a decisive role in determining the presence/absence of 'dass' in wh-complement clauses. In particular, the paper argues against a syntactic analysis proposed elsewhere in the literature, in which short wh-constituents such as was ‘what’ are assumed to be complementizers in C, and defends the traditional view according to which these short wh-constituents are phrasal.