Challenges for a theory of islands: Abroader perspective on ambridge, pine, and lieven

Carson T. Schütze, Jon Sprouse, Ivano Caponigro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Subjacency characterizes a set of phenomena whose acquisition must be explained by any proposal for human language learning. We take a broader perspective than previous responses to Ambridge, Pine, and Lieven (2014), arguing that they have not shown that this UG principle is ‘redundant’ because their proposed alternative does not take into account firmly established constraints on A-bar dependencies. We illustrate a range of challenges for theories hoping to reduce subjacency to independently motivated, primarily nonsyntactic constraints: they must include a way to account for attested crosslinguistic variation in island effects, the cross-construction generality of island effects, and the effects of resumption and of wh-in-situ on island behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e31-e39
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015


  • A-bar dependencies
  • Islands crosslinguistically
  • Language acquisition
  • Resumption
  • Subjacency
  • Universal grammar
  • Wh-in-situ

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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