LINGUIST List 12.320

Wed Feb 7 2001

Qs: Non-lexical Interjections, "Wh-" Construction

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  1. gina, nonlexical interjections?
  2. shouna, wh- construction

Message 1: nonlexical interjections?

Date: Tue, 06 Feb 2001 11:54:17 +0000
From: gina <>
Subject: nonlexical interjections?


Does anyone know of crosslinguistic work done on interjections, in
particular on the phonological analyses of interjections? Or lexica
which include nonlexical interjections (pause fillers,
acknowledgement) in different languages?
Any pointers to or your own observations of what nonlexical
interjections exist in different languages, variations in the
interjections, similarities across languages will be greatly
appreciated as well!

Many thanks,
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Message 2: wh- construction

Date: Tue, 6 Feb 2001 08:41:42 -0500
From: shouna <>
Subject: wh- construction

	I am a senior, doing a year-long project in linguistics. I am studying
a construction which in English works as follows:

	Wh- do you think (that) X?
	where wh- is a wh- word and X is an embedded sentence.

	When the wh- word is "why" and the "that" is omitted, the question
has two possible interpretations:

	(1) Why do you hold the opinion that X is true?
	(2) What, in your opinion, is the cause or motivation for X?

Only (1) is possible if "that" is included. In context, the interpretation
depends on whether X has been established as true - if so, then
interpretation (2) results; if not, then interpretation (1). (The question
misfires, of course, if X has been established as false.) (1) may be seen
as the literal interpretation of the question, and (2) as one derived from

	When the wh- words "when", "where", and "how" are used, the question
usually takes the interpretation analagous to (2); theoretically, the
questions could also take the one analagous to (1), but only in artificial
or contrived contexts. (example: "Usually I'm sure the team will lose, but
at certain times of the day I'm wildly hopeful." "When do you think the
team will win?" "In the evenings." is possible but artificial, as opposed
to the typical "When do you think the team will win?" "After a few weeks,
when they've gotten in practice again.") "Who" and "what" can never take

	There are other verbs that behave similarly to "think", such as
"say", "believe", and (in special cases) "know".

	My question is:
	a) Are both (1) and (2) possible in other non-wh-in situ languages?
If so, for what wh- words? If not, my prediction is that only (1) is
possible. Is this true?
	b) I have heard of a study (demonstrated on a video) in which
children were asked a question of the form I am studying. They were shown a
movie of a boy hurting himself, then later in the day describing how and
when he hurt himself. The children were then asked, "When did the boy say
he hurt himself?"; they answered according to both interpretations in
response. (The focus of the study was scope.) Can anyone direct me to
either the study or the video?

	I'll post a summary.

	Thanks very much,

		Abby Shoun
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