Complex NP Constraint

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A complex NP constraint is one of the conditions on transformations in early generative syntax.

  • No element contained in an S dominated by an NP with a lexical head noun may be moved out of that NP by a transformation. (Ross 1967:70).


This condition accounts for the ungrammaticality of the sentence:

* Who did you hear [NP the rumor [CP that Mary kissed t ]]


More recently, this class of facts have been analyzed as subjacency violations.


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics


Ross, J.R. 1967. Constraints on variables in syntax. Dissertation.