Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft Leibniz-Gemeinschaft

Relsatz - Syntax/semantics mismatches in externally and internally headed relative constructions

The project studies the ways in which syntactic structures are semantically interpreted, focusing on two apparent mismatches: (i) narrow-scope readings of heads in externally-headed relative constructions, where the head semantically depends on some operator within the relative clause (so-called "reconstruction") and (ii) wide-scope readings of internally-headed relative constructions, where the head, though syntactically part of the relative clause, appears to scope over the relative construction ("exconstruction").

Two theoretical alternatives will be considered: (a) assuming syntactic structure enriched by a particular representation level like Logical Form (LF) that can be interpreted by ordinary semantic operations; (b) assuming semantic interpretation enriched by type shifting operations that allow for interpretation of overt syntactic structures for which there is direct syntactic evidence.

Our goal is to assess whether one of the two approaches is preferable on empirical and/or conceptual grounds, thus providing a decisive contribution to the most important theoretical issue concerning the syntax/semantics interface.


  • Krifka, Manfred. 2019. A direct compositionality approach to condition C effects under reconstruction and their exceptions. In Schenner, Mathias & Manfred Krifka (eds.). Reconstruction effects in relative clauses. Studia grammatica 75, 35-86. Berlin: De Gruyter.
  • Krifka, Manfred & Mathias Schenner (eds.). 2019. Reconstruction effects in relative clauses. . Studia grammatica 75. Berlin: De Gruyter.
  • Schenner, Mathias & Frank Sode. 2014. Modal particles in causal clauses: The case of German 'weil wohl'. In Elisabeth Leiss & Werner Abraham (eds.), Modes of Modality: Modality, Typology and Universal Grammar, Amsterdam: Benjamins.
  • Sauerland, Uli & Mathias Schenner. 2013. On еmbedding and еvidentiality in Bulgarian. Contrastive Linguistics 2-3. 131-152.
  • Ludwig, Rainer, Fabienne Salfner & Mathias Schenner. 2012. Focus on Embedded Adverbials. In Sarah Berson et al. (eds.), Proceedings of the Thirty-Fourth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society (BLS 34), 245-256. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Linguistics Society.
  • Ludwig, Rainer, Fabienne Salfner & Mathias Schenner. 2012. Adverbials in German: More on embedding and focus. Belgian Journal of Linguistics 26. 84–115.
  • Munroe, Robert, Rainer Ludwig, Uli Sauerland & David W. Fleck. 2012. Reported Speech in Matses: Perspective Persistence and Evidential Narratives. International Journal of American Linguistics. 41-75.