Craig Thiersch (Utrecht University)
Extraction asymmetries in Malagasy
There are two unusual apparent restrictions on WH-extraction in Malagasy, known since Keenan (1976): (1) extraction is generally only possible if the extracted constituent is a “subject”, and (2) extraction is only possible from clauses which are themselves subjects. This is remarkable, since in most (Indo-European) languages the reverse is true: extraction is easier of, and from, the direct object. A similar restriction appears in other Austronesian languages and there have been various proposals in the literature (e.g. the “subject” is actually an absolutive argument).
Pearson (2001, 2005) i.a. proposes that the “subject” is really an A-bar position as a solution to problem (1). This talk examines the alternatives and attempts to extend his solution to the second problem.