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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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What is English? And Why Should We Care?

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To find some answers Tim Machan explores the language's present and past, and looks ahead to its futures among the one and a half billion people who speak it. His search is fascinating and important, for definitions of English have influenced education and law in many countries and helped shape the identities of those who live in them.

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Query Details

Query Subject:   Binding Judgments Requested
Author:   Steven Franks
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Syntax

Query:   Presenting a textbook argument from English for intermediate movement to speakers of Slovenian, Croatian, and Bulgarian, I recently encountered clear objections that the data did not carry over to their languages. Something like (1):

(1) Which picture of himself does John think that Mary prefers?

or intermediate (2):

(2) Which picture of himself does Mary think that John hopes that Sue will prefer?

Moreover, even when the fronted wh-phrase is overt, as in (3), speakers did not accept binding:

(3) John wonders which picture of himself Mary prefers.

I began to wonder whether this English phenomenon might be rare, an outlier. What is going on, and what does the possibility of (1)-(3) correlate with.

If anyone knows of any comparative or typological work on this, I'd appreciate the reference. Also, if you have native speaker judgments about this sort of binding, I'd appreciate hearing them.

LL Issue: 24.1794
Date posted: 23-Apr-2013


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