IMMAGES - Hosting a clause: Implications dor the matrix and its guests

DFG project

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) - Project number 510195495

IMMAGES - Hosting a clause: Implications for the matrix and its guests

Project number



since 2023


Sentences such as ‘Mary believes/says/hopes that John is an angel; Maria glaubt/sagt/hofft, dass Hans ein Engel ist; Marie croit/dit/espère que Jean est/soit un ange’ describe a mental state or act with propositional content. This propositional content is materialized by a clause which is traditionally referred to as ‘complement/argument/object clause’. The aim of the project is to develop a theory that essentially abandons the classical view that finite clauses are syntactically complements and semantically propositional arguments of their matrix predicates. A generalized theory will be developed that systematically relates apparent proposition-denoting ‘complement’ clauses with different types of subordinating elements (complementizers) to the other types of clausal embedding (relative clauses, adverbial clauses) and semantic objects (e.g. attitudinal objects, Moltmann 2003), taking into account various factors (morphology of complementizers, types of embedding predicates, possibility of correlation within the matrix). In fact, this unification of all cases of subordination/hypotaxis is desirable under the view that they all display recursion (a clause within a clause within a clause…) and in the frame of a parsimonious approach to human language. To this aim, the recent theory according to which clauses are adjuncts will be revised under the hypothesis that they modify an overt or covert item (the “anchor”) that is the actual complement to the predicate (which we dub the “tripartite hypothesis”). This innovative idea independently originated in the works of the participants in this project, who decided to join their forces to develop it further and provide an account that is fully satisfactory in terms of syntax/semantics interfacing. The project will concentrate on Germanic, Greek and Romance and test the central hypothesis against non-Indo-European languages like Basque and Hungarian. It furthermore takes seriously diachronic and dialectal variation as important information sources for the understanding of finite embedding as a central component of the grammar of human language.


This image shows Ellen Brandner

Ellen Brandner

apl. Prof. Dr.

Research and Teaching Associate

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