Reply to Bhatt and Pancheva's "late merger of degree clauses": The irrelevance of (non)conservativity

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According to Bhatt and Pancheva (2004), two effects they attribute to degree constructions (obligatory extraposition effects and scope rigidity effects determined by the superficial position of degree phrases/clauses) can be given a unified analysis in terms of an extension of Fox and Nissenbaum's (1999) analysis of extraposition in conjunction with the nonconservativity of (certain) degree words. We show that, under full preservation of Bhatt and Pancheva's theoretical assumptions, their account faces at least three problems: (a) one of the phenomena they propose to unify, the one involving scope effects, does not exist; (b) (non)conservativity is irrelevant to obligatory extraposition effects; and (c) contrary to their tacit assumption, Trace Conversion is at most an optional procedure for DegP chains. We propose an alternative, nonsemantic treatment of obligatory extraposition effects, which subsumes them under an independently needed adjacency constraint on prehead modifiers. Furthermore, we note that the facts brought up here and in Bhatt and Pancheva 2004 call into question the quantificational approach to degree constructions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-483
Number of pages27
JournalLinguistic Inquiry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006


  • (Countercyclic) late merger
  • (Non)conservativity
  • (Quantificational vs. nonquantificational analyses of) degree constructions
  • Adjacency
  • Extraposition
  • Full-copy chains
  • QR
  • Trace Conversion


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