Special Issue "Recent Advances in Research on Island Phenomena"

A special issue of Languages (ISSN 2226-471X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2022) | Viewed by 5052

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Anne Mette Nyvad
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of English, School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University, 8000 Aarhus C , Denmark
Interests: islands; comparative syntax; language variation and change; language acquisition
Dr. Ken Ramshøj Christensen
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of English, School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
Interests: syntax; islands; language variation; language processing; psycholinguistics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to invite you to submit a manuscript for a Special Issue of Languages titled “Recent Advances in Research on Island Phenomena”.

In natural languages, syntactic elements can, in principle, be linked across an unbounded distance, as exemplified by filler-gap dependencies. Since Ross (1967), the term “island” has been used to describe syntactic structures from which extraction is impossible or impeded, and the constraints on such dependencies are typically assumed to be universal and innate, given the lack of negative evidence during language acquisition.

English has been the prototypical object of study in accounts trying to establish what is possible and impossible with respect to, e.g., long-distance dependencies across clausal boundaries. While research on English has thus been ubiquitous in the literature on island structures, attested counterexamples in the Mainland Scandinavian languages, first identified in the 1970s (Erteschik-Shir 1973; Engdahl & Ejerhed 1982), have continuously been dismissed as illusory and alternative accounts for the underlying structure of such cases have been proposed (Chomsky 1982; Kush, Omaki & Hornstein 2013). In view of the fact that island structures are pervasive in spoken Mainland Scandinavian (Lindahl 2017; Nyvad, Christensen & Vikner 2017), these languages have not been given the attention that they deserve in the syntax literature. In addition, recent research suggests that extraction from certain types of island structures in English might not be as unacceptable as previously assumed either (Müller 2019; Chaves & Putnam 2020). These findings break new empirical ground, question perceived knowledge, and may indeed have substantial ramifications for syntactic theory.

The aim of this Special Issue is to provide an overview of the state of the art in research on island phenomena in English and the Mainland Scandinavian languages, as well any other languages where such island structures can be found. An explicit objective is to investigate how other languages compare to English with respect to island constraints in order to shed light on the nature of the constraints on filler-gap dependencies and the syntactic primitives that form the basis of such structures. This Special Issue will offer both new and updated analyses of island phenomena, and we welcome contributions from all island researchers, irrespective of theoretical framework.

In this Special Issue, original research articles and reviews are welcome. Research areas may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Relative clause extraction
  • Complex NP extraction
  • Adjunct clause extraction
  • Wh-islands
  • Subject islands
  • The nature of island constraints in L2
  • Satiation effects and graded acceptability
  • The role of dependency type in extraction phenomena

Squib-like articles (no longer than 5000 words) are also welcome. Individual contributions may range from descriptive to formal and experimental approaches.

We request that, prior to submitting a full manuscript, interested authors initially submit a proposed title and abstract of approximately 400–600 words, summarizing their intended contribution. Please send it to both the Guest Editors, Anne Mette Nyvad ([email protected]) and Ken Ramshøj Christensen ([email protected]), as well as to the Languages Editorial Office ([email protected]). Abstracts will be reviewed by the Guest Editors for the purposes of ensuring proper fit within the scope of the Special Issue. Full manuscripts will undergo double-blind peer review.

The tentative completion schedule is as follows:

  • Abstract submission deadline: August 31, 2021
  • Notification of abstract acceptance: September 30, 2021
  • Proposed deadline: June 30, 2022

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

References

Chaves, R. P. & Putnam, M. T. (2020). Unbounded Dependency Constructions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Chomsky, N. (1982). Conditions on transformations.  In S. Anderson & P. Kiparsky (Eds.), A festschrift for Morris Halle. New York: Holt, Reinhart & Winston.

Engdahl, E. & Ejerhed, E. (1982). Readings on unbounded dependencies in Scandinavian languages. Stockholm: Almquist & Wiksell International.

Erteschik-Shir, N. (1973). On the nature of island constraints. PhD dissertation, MIT.

Kush, D., Omaki, A., & Hornstein, N. (2013). Microvariation in Islands? In J. Sprouse & N. Hornstein (Eds.), Experimental Syntax and Island Effects, 239–64. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139035309.013.

Lindahl, F. (2017). Extraction from relative clauses in Swedish. PhD dissertation, University of Gothenburg.  

Müller, C. (2019). Permeable Islands: A Contrastive Study of Swedish and English Adjunct Clause Extraction. PhD dissertation, University of Lund.

Nyvad, A. M., Christensen, K. R. & Vikner, S. (2017). ”CP-Recursion in Danish: A cP/CP-Analysis. The Linguistic Review, 34(3), 449-477.

Ross, J. R. (1967). Constraints on variables in syntax. PhD dissertation, MIT.

Dr. Anne Mette Nyvad
Dr. Ken Ramshøj Christensen
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registeringand logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Languages is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • islands
  • syntax
  • pragmatics
  • information structure
  • long-distance dependency
  • constraints
  • universal grammar
  • variation
  • grammaticality
  • acceptability
  • language processing

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Article
Comparing Island Effects for Different Dependency Types in Norwegian
Languages 2022, 7(3), 197; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages7030197 - 29 Jul 2022
Viewed by 323
Abstract
Recent research suggests that island effects may vary as a function of dependency type, potentially challenging accounts that treat island effects as reflecting uniform constraints on all filler-gap dependency formation. Some authors argue that cross-dependency variation is more readily accounted for by discourse-functional [...] Read more.
Recent research suggests that island effects may vary as a function of dependency type, potentially challenging accounts that treat island effects as reflecting uniform constraints on all filler-gap dependency formation. Some authors argue that cross-dependency variation is more readily accounted for by discourse-functional constraints that take into account the discourse status of both the filler and the constituent containing the gap. We ran a judgment study that tested the acceptability of wh-extraction and relativization from nominal subjects, embedded questions (EQs), conditional adjuncts, and existential relative clauses (RCs) in Norwegian. The study had two goals: (i) to systematically investigate cross-dependency variation from various constituent types and (ii) to evaluate the results against the predictions of the Focus Background Conflict constraint (FBCC). Overall we find some evidence for cross-dependency differences across extraction environments. Most notably wh-extraction from EQs and conditional adjuncts yields small but statistically significant island effects, but relativization does not. The differential island effects are potentially consistent with the predictions of the FBCC, but we discuss challenges the FBCC faces in explaining finer-grained judgment patterns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Research on Island Phenomena)
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Article
Extraction from Present Participle Adjuncts: The Relevance of the Corresponding Declaratives
Languages 2022, 7(3), 177; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages7030177 - 08 Jul 2022
Viewed by 324
Abstract
In this article, I will argue that many of the theoretical approaches to extraction from participle adjunct islands suffer from the fact that the focus of investigation lies on perceived grammaticality differences in interrogative structures. Following approaches which make an explicit connection between [...] Read more.
In this article, I will argue that many of the theoretical approaches to extraction from participle adjunct islands suffer from the fact that the focus of investigation lies on perceived grammaticality differences in interrogative structures. Following approaches which make an explicit connection between extraction asymmetries and properties of the underlying proposition, I will argue that there is good evidence for the existence of similar differences in declarative adjunct constructions which can explain most of the grammaticality patterns observed for interrogatives. A crucial distinction to the majority of previous theories is the focus on acceptability rather than grammaticality, and the assumption that acceptability in declaratives is determined by a variety of semantic and syntactic complexity factors which do not influence how strongly extraction degrades the structure. This line of argumentation is more compatible with approaches to island phenomena that explain the low acceptability of some extractions by independent effects such as processing complexity and discourse function instead of syntactic principles blocking the extraction. I will also discuss a partially weighted, multifactorial model for the acceptability of declarative and interrogative participle adjunct constructions, which explains the judgment patterns in the literature without the need for additional, complex licensing conditions for extraction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Research on Island Phenomena)
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Article
Extraction from Relative Clauses in Icelandic and Swedish: A Parallel Investigation
Languages 2022, 7(3), 163; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages7030163 - 29 Jun 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 332
Abstract
Extraction from relative clauses is generally taken to be unacceptable in Icelandic, unlike in the Mainland Scandinavian languages. Recent studies on Mainland Scandinavian show that the type of dependency as well as the embedding predicate matters for the acceptability of such extractions, and [...] Read more.
Extraction from relative clauses is generally taken to be unacceptable in Icelandic, unlike in the Mainland Scandinavian languages. Recent studies on Mainland Scandinavian show that the type of dependency as well as the embedding predicate matters for the acceptability of such extractions, and the study of spontaneously produced examples has improved our ability to create felicitous extraction contexts. The studies of Icelandic extraction predate these findings, and there is to date no study which systematically compares parallel sentences in Icelandic and Mainland Scandinavian. This article presents such a study, using two acceptability judgment experiments, one in Icelandic and one in Swedish, drawing on newly gained insights about fronting conditions in the two languages to create plausible contexts. The Icelandic participants rated extraction from relative clauses as unnatural, with a very large acceptability cost compared to in situ versions and good fillers. Extraction from -clauses received mixed ratings, and local fronting was rated on a par with the in situ versions. In Swedish, extraction from relative clauses was rated as natural a majority of the time. There was no extraction cost in local fronting, extraction from att-clauses, or extraction from relative clauses in existential sentences, while extraction with other embedding predicates incurred some cost. No differences relating to the embedding predicate were seen in Icelandic. The study corroborates the view that extraction from relative clauses is unacceptable in Icelandic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Research on Island Phenomena)
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Article
Extraction and Pronoun Preposing in Scandinavian
Languages 2022, 7(2), 128; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages7020128 - 23 May 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 667
Abstract
It has been noted that examples with extractions out of relative clauses that have been attested in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish are judged to be unacceptable in Icelandic and Faroese. We hypothesize that this may reflect whether or not speakers tend to prepose [...] Read more.
It has been noted that examples with extractions out of relative clauses that have been attested in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish are judged to be unacceptable in Icelandic and Faroese. We hypothesize that this may reflect whether or not speakers tend to prepose unstressed object pronouns as a way of establishing a coherent discourse. In this article we investigate to what extent pronoun preposing is used in Swedish, Icelandic and Faroese and whether there is any correlation with the acceptabilty of extractions from relative clauses. We show that Icelandic speakers use pronoun preposing to a very limited extent whereas Faroese speakers often prepose the VP or sentential anaphor tað. In both languages extraction from relative clauses is mainly judged to be unacceptable, with Faroese speakers being somewhat more accepting of extraction from presentational relatives. A crucial factor seems to be whether preposing is associated with a marked, contrastive interpretation or not. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Research on Island Phenomena)
Article
Island Extractions in the Wild: A Corpus Study of Adjunct and Relative Clause Islands in Danish and English
Languages 2022, 7(2), 125; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages7020125 - 18 May 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 570
Abstract
Adjuncts and relative clauses are traditionally classified as strong islands for extraction across languages. However, the Mainland Scandinavian (MSc.) languages have been reported to differ from e.g., English in allowing extraction from adjunct and relative clauses. In order to investigate the distribution of [...] Read more.
Adjuncts and relative clauses are traditionally classified as strong islands for extraction across languages. However, the Mainland Scandinavian (MSc.) languages have been reported to differ from e.g., English in allowing extraction from adjunct and relative clauses. In order to investigate the distribution of possible island extractions in these languages based on naturally produced material, we conducted two exploratory corpus studies on adjunct and relative clause extraction in Danish and in English. Results suggest that both extraction from finite adjuncts and from relative clauses appears at a non-trivial rate in naturally produced Danish, which supports the claim that these structures are not strong islands in Danish. In English, we also found a non-trivial amount of examples displaying extraction from finite adjuncts, as well as a small number of cases of relative clause extraction. This finding presents a potential challenge to the claim that English differs from MSc. in never allowing extraction from strong islands. Furthermore, our results show that both languages appear to share certain trends that can be observed in the extraction examples regarding the type of extraction dependency, the type of adjunct clause featured in adjunct clause extraction, and the type of matrix predicate featured in relative clause extraction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Research on Island Phenomena)
Article
Extraction from English RCs and Cross-Linguistic Similarities in the Environments That Facilitate Extraction
Languages 2022, 7(2), 117; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages7020117 - 11 May 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 681
Abstract
In the first two decades following Ross’s Constraints on Variables in Syntax, a picture emerged in which the Mainland Scandinavian (MS) languages appeared to systematically evade some of the locality constraints proposed by Ross, including the relative clause (RC) part of the [...] Read more.
In the first two decades following Ross’s Constraints on Variables in Syntax, a picture emerged in which the Mainland Scandinavian (MS) languages appeared to systematically evade some of the locality constraints proposed by Ross, including the relative clause (RC) part of the complex NP constraint. The MS extraction patterns remain a topic of debate, but there is no consensus as to why extraction from RCs should be so degraded in English (compared to MS)—or why it should be so acceptable in MS (compared to English). We present experiment results which indicate that English should be counted among the languages that allow extraction from RCs in at least some environments. Our results suggest a negligible island effect for RCs in predicate nominal environments and a substantially reduced island effect for those in canonical existential environments. In addition, we show that the size of the island effect resulting from extraction from an RC under a transitive verb is substantially reduced when the transitive verb is used to make an indirect existential claim. We present arguments that patterns of RC sub-extraction discovered in Mainland Scandinavian languages are mirrored in English, and we highlight methodological innovations that we believe may be useful for further investigation into this and other topics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Research on Island Phenomena)
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Article
The Radical Unacceptability Hypothesis: Accounting for Unacceptability without Universal Constraints
Languages 2022, 7(2), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages7020096 - 13 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 737
Abstract
The Radical Unacceptability Hypothesis (RUH) has been proposed as a way of explaining the unacceptability of extraction from islands and frozen structures. This hypothesis explicitly assumes a distinction between unacceptability due to violations of local well-formedness conditions—conditions on constituency, constituent order, and morphological [...] Read more.
The Radical Unacceptability Hypothesis (RUH) has been proposed as a way of explaining the unacceptability of extraction from islands and frozen structures. This hypothesis explicitly assumes a distinction between unacceptability due to violations of local well-formedness conditions—conditions on constituency, constituent order, and morphological form—and unacceptability due to extra-grammatical factors. We explore the RUH with respect to classical islands, and extend it to a broader range of phenomena, including freezing, A chain interactions, zero-relative clauses, topic islands, weak crossover, extraction from subjects and parasitic gaps, and sensitivity to information structure. The picture that emerges is consistent with the RUH, and suggests more generally that the unacceptability of extraction from otherwise well-formed configurations reflects non-syntactic factors, not principles of grammar. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Research on Island Phenomena)
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Article
On the Nature of Syntactic Satiation
Languages 2022, 7(1), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/languages7010038 - 17 Feb 2022
Viewed by 742
Abstract
In syntactic satiation, a linguist initially judges a sentence type to be unacceptable but begins to accept it after judging multiple examples over time. When William Snyder first brought this phenomenon to the attention of linguists, he proposed satiation as a data source [...] Read more.
In syntactic satiation, a linguist initially judges a sentence type to be unacceptable but begins to accept it after judging multiple examples over time. When William Snyder first brought this phenomenon to the attention of linguists, he proposed satiation as a data source for linguistic theory and showed it can be induced experimentally. Here, three new studies indicate (i) satiation is restricted to a small, stable set of sentence types; (ii) after satiation on one sentence type (e.g., wh-movement across … wonder whether … or … believe the claim …), acceptability sometimes increases for distinct but syntactically related sentence types (… wonder why …; … accept the idea …); (iii) for sentence types susceptible to satiation, the difficulty of inducing it (e.g., number of exposures required) varies systematically; and (iv) much as satiation in linguists persists over time, experimentally induced satiation can persist for at least four weeks. These findings suggest a role for satiation in determining whether the perceived unacceptability of two sentence types has a common source. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Research on Island Phenomena)
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