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LINGUIST List 20.2049

Wed Jun 03 2009

Diss: Syntax: Ginsburg: 'Interrogative Features'

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        1.    Jason Ginsburg, Interrogative Features

Message 1: Interrogative Features
Date: 02-Jun-2009
From: Jason Ginsburg <jginsburgmail.com>
Subject: Interrogative Features
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Institution: University of Arizona
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2009

Author: Jason Ginsburg

Dissertation Title: Interrogative Features

Dissertation URL: http://www.u.arizona.edu/~jginsbur/Academic/RESEARCH_files/JGDissertation.pdf

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

Dissertation Director:
Simin Karimi
Heidi Harley
Andrew Carnie
Andrew Barss

Dissertation Abstract:

There has been a great deal of work examining the structures of yes/no and
wh-constructions that has led to many important developments in linguistic
theory. In this dissertation, I extend this work by developing a theory
that explains how the behavior of Qu-morphemes (question morphemes) and
wh-phrases in interrogative constructions in several different languages is
influenced by 'interrogative features.' The interrogative features are 1) a
Qu-feature, which is responsible for typing a clause as an interrogative,
2) a wh-feature, which is responsible for giving a wh-phrase scope, and 3)
a Focus-feature, which is responsible for focusing certain relevant
phrases. The main focus of this work is on explaining the influence of
these interrogative features on the positions of question morphemes and
wh-phrases. In the first part of this work, I examine the behavior of
Qu-morphemes. I account for why a Qu-morpheme must appear in the clause
periphery in certain languages, such as Japanese, whereas it can appear in
a non-clause-peripheral position in other languages, such as Sinhala. I
explain how a Qu-feature associated with a Qu-morpheme types a clause and
why there is variation in the positions of Qu-morphemes. The second part of
this work focuses on the behavior of wh-phrases. I account for why
wh-constructions can be formed with an in-situ wh-phrase (for example, in
Japanese), with movement of a wh-phrase to a scope position (for example,
in English), or with movement of a wh-phrase to a non-scopal position (for
example, in some dialects of German). I also examine other phenomena
involving wh-phrases. I show how wh-feature movement can influence
well-formedness of a wh-construction. I explain why, in certain cases, what
would normally be an ill-formed construction can be repaired via the
addition of a wh-phrase. I examine why some languages, but not others,
allow multiple wh-constructions. Lastly, I investigate the odd behavior of
the wh-phrase 'why,' which behaves differently from other wh-phrases. This
work is novel in that it provides a unified analysis of cross-linguistic
and language internal variation in the structures of yes/no and

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