Nordic Journal of Linguistics

Research Article

Preposition-Stranding and Passive*

Joan Malinga1 and Annie Zaenena2

a1 Department of Psychology, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02254, USA

a2 Xerox PARC, 3333 Coyote Hill Road, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA


Various linguists working within the theory of Government and Binding (e.g. Hornstein & Weinberg (1981), Kayne (1981)) have attempted to provide a unified account of preposition-stranding. This article uses evidence from Icelandic to show that preposition-stranding is not a unified phenomenon. Although Icelandic freely allows preposition-stranding in wh-movement constructions, it lacks prepositional passives in which the prepositional object of an active verb corresponds to the grammatical subject of a passive verb. Various syntactic tests which distinguish between grammatical subjects and topicalized NPs are used to demonstrate this. Our conclusion is that while lexical reanalysis is needed to account for prepositional passives, no such reanalysis is warranted for preposition-stranding due to wh-movement; hence, an adequate theory of preposition-stranding must allow for two separate parameters.


* This paper was read at the Winter meeting of the Linguistic Society of America, December 28, 1982. We are grateful to Anna Sigurðardóttir, Jóhann G. Jóhannsson, Ragnhildur Hjartardóttir and Sigga Porgeirsdóttir for their judgments as native speakers, and to Eva Ejerhed and Kirsti Koch Christensen for helpful comments on an earlier draft. Research for this paper was supported in part by NSF Grant No. BNS 80–14730.