Just came across the Nested Dependency Condition - if two wh-trace dependencies overlap, one must contain the other. What does this mean?

  • The term overlap can include cases where neither contains the other. The NDC rules this out.
    – Keelan
    Nov 14, 2021 at 9:18

1 Answer 1


It's about dependencies between fillers and gaps; in English, you can say, This is the knife[k] that this salami[s] is easy to cut __[s] with __[k]

There are two dependencies, one between the knife and the gap marked with k, and one between the salami and the gap marked with s. The s dependency is contained within the k dependency, so they stand in a “nesting” relation.

Compare the following, with crossing dependencies: *This is the salami[s] that my knife[k] is easy to cut __[s] with __[k].

So the Nested Dependency Condition requires that multiple dependencies nest each other, in English. The examples are from Kuno and Robinson, 1972, "Multiple wh questions," in Linguistic Inquiry.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.