Weber on “Extraposition of prepositional phrases – corpus data and elicited production experiments”

We are happy to announce a talk by

Sabrina Weber (Frankfurt a.M.)
Extraposition of prepositional phrases
– corpus data and elicited production experiments

in the Oberseminar English Linguistics, Monday, May 23, 4-6pm, room IG 3.201.


Extraposition of prepositional phrases out of NP is considered to be a marked structure as it splits up the head noun and the PP. However, there is another syntactic dependency to consider: the
dependency between head noun and clause-final verb (see Hawkins, 2004, 2014). In his study about relative clause extraposition in German, Bader (2014) notes that the rate of extraposition increases with increasing length of the relative clause, while it declines with increasing extraposition distance. Thus, there are two aspects to consider: 1. the length of the extraposed constituent, and 2. the length of the intervening material between head noun and extraposed constituent. We report two elicited production studies, together with a corpus study, investigating the influence of the length of both the extraposed PP and the intervening material on the likelihood of extraposition in German. We find that extraposition is favoured over verbs only. Furthermore, we find in the corpus that extraposed PPs are significantly longer than PPs found in non-extraposed position. While extraposed PPs could be expected to be reproduced in non-extraposed position, we find this expectation only partially confirmed, therefore putting into question if extraposition is marked in all contexts and conditions.