This paper looks at the syntax of so-called gapless relative clauses in spoken English. §1 contrasts gap relatives (like that italicized in ‘something which I said’, in which there is a gap internally within the relative clause associated with the relativized constituent) with gapless relatives (like that italicized in ‘They were clowning around, which I didn’t really care until I found out they had lost my ﬁle’, in which there is no apparent gap within the relative clause). In §2, we note that a number of recent analyses take which to function as a subordinating conjunction in gapless relatives, but we argue against this view and provide evidence that the wh-word in such clauses is indeed a relative pronoun. In §3, we argue that the relative pronoun in gapless relatives serves as the object of a ‘silent’ preposition. In §4, we present an analysis under which a preposition can be silent when it undergoes a type of deletion operation called Ghosting. §5 discusses gapless relatives which have a Topic-Comment interpretation, and argues for an extended Ghosting analysis under which a TP containing a predicate of SAYING associated with the ghosted preposition is also ghosted. Our overall conclusion is that supposedly ‘gapless’ relatives are more properly analyze as containing a gap created by relativization of the object of a ghosted preposition.
Collins, Chris and Andrew Radford. 2015. Gaps, Ghosts and Gapless Relatives in Spoken English. Studia Linguistica 69.2, 191-235.