Exploring the Reference Requirements for Relativization with Special Reference to Korean

Ji-eun Lee 1 ,
Author Information & Copyright
1Kyung Hee University
Corresponding Author :

ⓒ Copyright 2018 Language Education Institute, Seoul National University. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Feb 28, 2018 ; Revised: Aug 04, 2018 ; Accepted: Aug 06, 2018

Published Online: Aug 31, 2018


This study reveals that case-recoverability is not enough to explain the unrelativizability of an NP and suggests the concept of reference value as another factor that affects its unrelativizability. In previous studies, case-recoverability has been primarily discussed as a requirement for RC-formation. However, there are Korean examples of RCs that turn out ungrammatical, even when the case of the head noun in an RC is recoverable. This paper revisits the referential feature of an NP and proposes that the concept of reference value helps to explain the relativizability of an NP. Reference value denotes a feature of an NP that has a corresponding index in the reference tier as described in Jackendoff (2002). With the concept of reference value, Korean RC examples are revisited whose unrelativizability cannot be explained with case-recoverability. The findings show that Korean reference value is a prerequisite for relativization: if an NP does not have reference value, it cannot be relativized regardless of its case-recoverability.

Keywords: relative clauses; case-recoverability; Korean; referential tier; reference value