Some Syntactic Island Violations

Rebekah Baglini

Syntactic island violations refer to certain grammatical configurations in which movement operations like wh-extraction is disallowed. That is, a wh-word, namely an interrogative pronoun or adverb, is ‘extracted’ from a sentence or phrase and moved to the beginning of a sentence or to a different position within a sentence. Although grammaticality judgments can differ depending on the language, dialect, or even individual, here are some common types of islands along with example sentences that violate the constraints, incorporating geographical islands for thematic unity.

1. **Wh-Island** 

    - *Who did you wonder [why Fletcher Christian landed __] on Pitcairn Island?*

2. **Complex NP (Noun Phrase) Island**

    - *What did you read [the book about __] in the Faroe Islands?*

3. **Coordinate Structure Island**

    - *What did Arnault and [visit Okinawa and __]?*

4. **Adjunct Island**

    - *Who did Peter leave [after seeing __] on Samsø?*

5. **Sentential Subject Island**

    - *What do you think [__ causing deforestation] will affect Zealand?*

6. **Left Branch Condition**

    - *How much did you buy [__ expensive wine] in Santorini?*

7. **If-Island**

    - *Who would you be surprised [if Kirsi met __] in Bermuda?*

8. **Whether-Island**

    - *Who do you wonder [whether Arthur saw __] in the Azores?*

9. **That-Trace Effect**

    - *Who do you believe [that __ saw the volcano] in Krakatoa?*

10. **Parasitic Gap**

    - *Who did you file [the report that mentioned __] without reading __ in Tahiti?*

11. **Negative Island**

    - *Who didn’t Liam think [that Fie saw __] on Svalbard?*

12. **Factive Island**

    - *Who are you sorry [that __ missed the trip] to the Seychelles?*

As we traverse these syntactic realms, we encounter the significance of adhering to (un)grammatical structures to ensure (in)effective islanding and linguistic and geographical scaffolding. Understanding and avoiding island violations not only sharpens our word-order skills, but can enhance our clarity and coherence of expression. The tricky balance between grammatical fidelity and purposeful departure (read: disruption) dictates the colour of our linguistic narrative, with actual island examples and island-language relevance providing worthwhile purchase and analogy.