Łukasz Jędrzejowski, Universität zu Köln

"On exceptive clauses in (the history of) Polish"

In this talk, I will examine the synchrony and the diachrony of exceptive clauses in the sense claimed by von Fintel (1992) in Polish. (1) is a case in point:

(1)  Dzisiaj  po południu  mogą      wyjść          na   wolność,  *(chyba)             że   

      Today   afternoon      may.3pl   go:out.inf   on   freedom,  *(presumably)   that

      / *iż       sąd     zdecyduje   inaczej.  

     *that   court   decide.3sg  differently

     ‘They are allowed to be released from prison today afternoon,

     unless the court will take a different decision.’

                                                                       (NKJP, Dziennik Zachodni, 30/12/2004)

In the example given in (1), the exceptive clause is introduced by chyba że ‘unless’, consisting of the discourse particle chyba ‘presumably’ and the complementizer że ‘that’. Synchronically, I argue that both chyba and że form a complex complementizer introducing adverbial exceptive clauses. Evidence for this claim comes from the fact that chyba cannot be omitted, indicating that it has been incorporated into the exceptive clause structure and accommodated into its compositional meaning. Additionally, że cannot be replaced by its stylistic counterpart iż mainly used in higher-register texts. Diachronically, I show that exceptive clauses emerged in Old Polish (till 1543) and that subjunctive morphology in the embedded clause was a necessary condition for them to arise. I outline individual steps of how exceptive clauses developed, what role the discourse particle chyba ‘presumably’ played in this development, and, finally, account for why subjunctive morphology in Present-day Polish exceptive clauses can be dispensed with altogether.


von Fintel, Kai. 1992. Exceptive conditionals: The meaning of unless. Proceedings of the North East Linguistics Society 22. 135–151.

Tags: Exceptive Clauses, Polish, Complex complementizers, Old Polish
Published Sep. 4, 2018 3:43 PM - Last modified Sep. 10, 2018 1:24 PM