About acceptability judgements:
It is widely acknowledged that English pronouns can be used as a marker of the position relative to which a wh
expression has to be construed (i.e. as marking the "gap", hence "resumptive"), but that such constructions are "substandard" or "marginal"
(cf. Chomsky 1977, 1982; Sells 1984; Engdahl 1985, Safor 1986; Sholnsky 1992; Erteschik-Shir 1992):
(10) She got a couch at Sears that (it) was on sale.There is a limited marginal use of resumptive pronouns in English
(11) He's a professor that nobody likes (him).
(12) ... who I was going to have lunch with (him) ...
(13) ... Newton, Mass., where it's been pretty cold (there)
(14) This is the person that I told (her) about quitting ...
as a way of circumventing island contraints. The pronoun is a 'last resort' option to prevent the surfacing of an illicit trace in possessive position (Ross 1967, Chomsky 1977, Shlonsky 1992)
Frank had an operation on Friday which we just found out about it
The relative clause sounds odd (??)
because a pronoun appears in a position where English requires a gap or empty category.
People are coming out with symptoms that the doctors don't know what they
The relative clause sounds odd but is more acceptable (?)
because the grammar of English does not permit a gap in the position of the pronoun. Whether these cases should be allowed by the grammar or classed as ungrammatical is not clear. We found in our study that about 1% of relative clauses in spontaneous natural discourse contained resumptive pronouns.
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