It is generally assumed that universal island constraints block extraction from relative clauses. However, it is well-known that such extractions can be acceptable in the Scandinavian languages. Kush & Lindahl (2011) argue that the acceptability in Swedish is illusory; relative clauses that allow extraction have a different structure (small clause structure) from those that block extraction (true relatives, CPs). We present data from an acceptability survey of relative clause extraction in Danish. In the survey, extraction significantly decreased acceptability but we found no statistically significant effect of the ability of the verb to take a small-clause complement. We also found no difference between som ‘that/who/which’ and der ‘that/who/which’, both of which can head a relative clause while only som can head a small clause. We argue that our results do not warrant the stipulation of a structural contrast between acceptable and unacceptable extractions, and that variation in acceptability stems from processing.
Nordic Journal of Linguistics, 2014, Vol 37, Issue 1, p. 29-45