Split-antecedent relative clauses and the symmetry of predicates


  • Claudia Poschmann
  • Sascha Bargmann
  • Christopher Götze
  • Anke Holler
  • Manfred Sailer
  • Gert Webelhuth
  • Thomas Ede Zimmermann




This paper presents the results of two experiments in German testing the acceptability
of (non-)restrictive relative clauses (NRCs/RRCs) with split antecedents (SpAs). According
to Moltmann (1992), SpAs are only grammatical if their parts occur within the conjuncts of
a coordinate structure and if they have identical grammatical functions. Non-conjoined SpAs
that form the subject and the object of a transitive verb are predicted to be ungrammatical. Our
study shows that the acceptability of such examples improves significantly if the predicate that
relates the parts of the SpA is symmetric. Moreover, it suggests that NRCs and RRCs behave
differently in these cases with respect to the SpA-construal. We can make sense of this observation
if we follow Winter (2016) in assuming that transitive symmetric predicates have to be
analyzed as unary collective predicates and thus provide a collective antecedent for the RC at
the semantic (not the syntactic) level. As we will argue, this accounts for some of the disagreement
we found in the literature and gives us new insights into both the semantics of symmetric
predicates and the semantics of NRCs.
Keywords: non-restrictive relative clause, restrictive relative clause, symmetric predicate, split





Poschmann, Claudia, Sascha Bargmann, Christopher Götze, Anke Holler, Manfred Sailer, Gert Webelhuth, und Thomas Ede Zimmermann. 2018. „Split-Antecedent Relative Clauses and the Symmetry of Predicates“. ZAS Papers in Linguistics 61 (Januar):253-70. https://doi.org/10.21248/zaspil.61.2018.495.