A Crosslinguistic Perspective on Amount Relative Clauses (English vs. Romanian)

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A Crosslinguistic Perspective on Amount Relative Clauses (English vs. Romanian)


Resceanu, Alina


The aim of this paper is to present some aspects pertaining to the interpretation of a special kind of relative clause construction, which is distinguished from restrictive and non-restrictive (appositives) relative clauses, namely amount relatives. It all started with a work by Carlson (1977) called “Amount Relatives,” in which he proposed that there was a third type of relative clause besides the traditionally recognised appositive and restrictive relatives – amount (Carlson 1977) or degree (Heim 1987) or maximalizing (Grosu & Landman 1998) relatives. The questions linguists have been trying to answer for the last 30 years is why they are called “amount” relatives and how they are different from ordinary (restrictive/non-restrictive) relatives. In the first part, we examine the approaches proposed in Carlson (1977), Heim (1987), Grosu and Landman (1998), Von Fintel (1999), McNally (2005), Herdan (2005) and Grosu (2000, 2002 and 2009). In the second part, we will briefly introduce the basic syntactic properties of the amount relatives, focusing on similarities and differences between English and Romanian. Amount relatives show restriction in the relativizers they allow, in the determiners that can combine with them (the determiners acceptable on the relative head to the ones that can be followed by an amount expression (Carlson, 1977) or to the definite and universals (Grosu and Landman, 1998)) and in their stacking possibilities. Data from Romanian seem to support these properties. Alongside with these common features, there exist in Romanian a construction which has been recently discovered (Grosu, 2009) and which will be discussed in the third part. We will present the contrasting elements that allow us to call this construction ‘a strange relative of the Romanian kind’ or a ‘Romanian unexpected relative’ (RUR) if we follow Grosu (2009). The open questions and further research topics conclude our discussion about the amount relative constructions.


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