Guido Mensching (Göttingen)

On another apparent violation of the subject-island constraint in French

— joint work with Franziska Werner (Göttingen) —

In the talk, we report on some inquiries with French speakers that show the following: in wh-questions, some speakers tolerate violations of the 'subject condition' (subjC) or 'subject-island constraint' more easily with questions of the complex-inversion type, whereas other speakers show a similar effect for so called 'est-ce que' questions. In the first part of the talk, we show that an appropriate minimalist analysis of French complex inversion reveals that the violation of the subjC is only apparent. In the second part, we try to find an explanation for the grammar of those speakers who tolerate subjC-violations in 'est-ce que' questions. It will be shown that our data can be explained if we assume that these speakers have a compositional analysis of 'est-ce que' questions, whereas, for others, 'est-ce que' is analyzed as a question particle.