LINGUIST List 14.1330

Fri May 9 2003

Qs: English Wh-questions

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  1. Toru Ishii, Subjunctives and Wh-islands

Message 1: Subjunctives and Wh-islands

Date: Wed, 07 May 2003 00:56:31 +0000
From: Toru Ishii <>
Subject: Subjunctives and Wh-islands

Dear All,

 It's well known that wh-extraction out of an indirect quesiton is
not allowed due to the wh-island constraint. So (1a, b) are deviant:

(1) a. Which pasta did you wonder [how the famous Italian chef cooked t]? 
 b. Which of the new books did you wonder [when Mary bought t]?

 But, it has often been pointed out (see, among others, Boeckx 2001)
that when wh-extraction takes place out of a subjunctive indirect
question as in (2), the result becomes better. In other words, for
those speakers, (2a, b) are better than (1a, b):

(2) a. Which pasta do you wonder [how you should cook t]?
 b. Which of the new books do you wonder [when you should buy t]?

I've consulted some native speakers of English, but they don't see any
contrast between (1) and (2). Is there anyone who can see any
contrast between (1) and (2) (that is, (2) is better than (1))? I'll
post a summary if I get enough reponses. Thanks.


Toru Ishii
School of Arts and Letters
Meiji University, Tokyo, JAPAN 

Subject-Language: English; Code: ENG 
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