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LINGUIST List 18.2569

Mon Sep 03 2007

Diss: Syntax/Semantics/Typology: Cable: 'The Grammar of Q: Q-Partic...'

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        1.    Seth Cable, The Grammar of Q: Q-Particles and the Nature of Wh-Fronting, as Revealed by the Wh-Questions of Tlingit


Message 1: The Grammar of Q: Q-Particles and the Nature of Wh-Fronting, as Revealed by the Wh-Questions of Tlingit
Date: 31-Aug-2007
From: Seth Cable <scablelinguist.umass.edu>
Subject: The Grammar of Q: Q-Particles and the Nature of Wh-Fronting, as Revealed by the Wh-Questions of Tlingit
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Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Program: Department of Linguistics and Philosophy
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: Seth Alfred Cable

Dissertation Title: The Grammar of Q: Q-Particles and the Nature of
Wh-Fronting, as Revealed by the Wh-Questions of Tlingit

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics
Syntax
Typology

Subject Language(s): Tlingit (tli)


Dissertation Director(s):
Danny Fox
Irene Heim
David Pesetsky
Norvin Richards

Dissertation Abstract:

The central claim of this thesis is that the agent responsible for a
variety of phenomena surrounding wh-operators is not those operators
themselves, but rather a distinct element that we label a
'Q(uestion)-particle'. In many languages, the Q-particle is phonologically
empty, and so its role in various phenomena has not yet been recognized.
Most importantly, careful study of these Q-particles reveals that the
phenomenon known as 'pied-piping' does not exist, and that all putative
examples of it are actually instances of normal phrasal movement of the
Q-particle.

This thesis starts from the demonstration that wh-fronting in Tlingit
(Na-Dene; Alaska, British Columbia, Yukon) does not involve a syntactic
relationship between the interrogative C and the wh-word. Rather, it
involves a probe/Agree relation between C and an overt Q-particle
c-commanding the wh-word. Fronting of the wh-word in Tlingit wh-questions
is a mere by-product of fronting the projection of the Q-particle. From
this core observation, a syntax and semantics for Tlingit wh-questions is
developed.

Given the strong similarity between the wh-constructions of Tlingit and
those of more widely studied languages, the analysis developed for Tlingit
is then applied to a range of other languages. It is found that such a
'Q-based' theory of wh-constructions holds a variety of analytic consequences.

Regarding so-called 'pied-piping structures', the Q-based theory provides
an analysis of such structures where the very concept of 'pied-piping' is
eliminated from the theory of grammar. Furthermore, the Q-based theory
provides a semantics for wh-questions that correctly interprets pied-piping
structures without recourse to any mechanisms beyond those needed for
wh-questions without pied-piping. Finally, the Q-based theory accounts for
various constraints on pied-piping, and correctly predicts the scope and
limits of its variation across languages.

Beyond its treatment of pied-piping, the Q-based theory also provides a
novel syntax and semantics for multiple wh-questions, which successfully
ties the presence of Superiority Effects to the absence of Intervention
Effects, and which correctly predicts a previously unnoticed Intervention
Effect in English. Moreover, it provides a novel, unified account of the
ill-formedness of left branch extractions, as well as of preposition stranding.


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