More appositives in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your Linguistics


In this paper I lay out a proposal for a typology of appositive relative clauses. By studying the characteristics of appositive relative clauses in five languages (Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian and English), I identify three types of appositive relative clauses: non-integrated, semi-integrated and (fully)-integrated. The empirical investigation leads to the following findings: 

1. Mandarin Chinese and Japanese appositive relative clauses belong to the class of fully integrated appositives; 

2. English appositive relative clauses are diametrically different from the fully integrated ones. I classify them as non-integrated appositives; 

3. Italian and French have two types of appositives: semi-integrated and non-integrated; 

4. Reduced relative clauses can also be appositive: if pre-nominal, they are fully integrated; if post nominal, they are semi-integrated.

The empirical data is accounted for by a proposal that is based on the following elements: 

1. the syntax of non-integrated and semi-integrated appositive relative clauses involves a CommaP projection and/or a ForceP projection; fully integrated appositives lack both of these projections; 

2. the non-integrated appositives’ relative pronoun is E-type; 

3. the syntax of prenominal appositive relative clauses prevents them from licensing an overt relative pronoun, and therefore an E-type pronoun; 

4. the CommaP triggers the intonational break at PF and, following Koev (2013) in spirit, it introduces a variable for the content of the constituents in its scope, thereby preventing such constituents from being bound from operators and quantifiers in the host clause. 

The empirical data analyzed and the account proposed leave us with an interesting fine-grained typology of appositives, thereby confirming a trend in the research on appositives pointing to the conclusion that we are dealing with a more variegated set of constructions than previously thought. 


appositive relative clauses, reduced relative clauses, E-type pronoun, typology, syntax, semantics

How to Cite

Del Gobbo, F., (2017) “More appositives in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your Linguistics”, Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 2(1): 49. doi:


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Francesca Del Gobbo (Department of Linguistics, UC Irvine School of Social Sciences, 3151 Social Sciences Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697, US)



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