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LINGUIST List 21.4927

Mon Dec 06 2010

Diss: Syntax: Dukova-Zheleva: 'Questions and Focus in Bulgarian'

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        1.     Galina Dukova-Zheleva , Questions and Focus in Bulgarian

Message 1: Questions and Focus in Bulgarian
Date: 06-Dec-2010
From: Galina Dukova-Zheleva <dukova.zhelevagmail.com>
Subject: Questions and Focus in Bulgarian
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Institution: University of Ottawa
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2010

Author: Galina Dukova-Zheleva

Dissertation Title: Questions and Focus in Bulgarian

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

Subject Language(s): Bulgarian (bul)


Dissertation Director(s):
MarĂ­a Luisa Rivero

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation proposes a unified approach to the study of interrogatives in
Bulgarian based on experimental data on wh- and yes/no interrogatives and on the
semantic analysis of polar questions. It investigates the hierarchy of wh-words,
the syntactic structure of interrogatives, the semantics of polar questions and
the connection between focus and questions in general.

The experimental part of this dissertation reports on two grammaticality
judgment tasks. It is argued that (a) wh-movement is an instance of focus
movement; (b) only the highest animate element is further raised to SpecCP; and
(c) in addition to Superiority, an animacy-based hierarchy is critical in
wh-ordering in Bulgarian. The experimental data adds a new dimension to the
ongoing debate concerning the types of functional categories required in the
left edge of the clause, suggesting that in Bulgarian there is a need for at
least two syntactic projections related to wh-movement of non-d-linked
wh-elements, Focus Phrase and Complementizer Phrase.

The semantic part of the dissertation is dedicated to the interpretation of
polar interrogatives in Bulgarian and their close relation to focus. I assume
that the interrogative particle 'li' heads the clause-internal focus projection,
whereas the interrogative word 'dali' is a true interrogative complementizer.
Thus, dali-questions parallel English polar interrogatives, whereas li-questions
are focus-dependent and their interpretation is always related to the
contextually restricted set of alternatives evoked by focus. Two types of
question operators are proposed. First, dali is equivalent to the silent
question operator Q in English. Second, li is a focus-dependent question
operator (QF) which combines with the contextually-restricted set of alternatives.

This dissertation brings new evidence confirming the long discussed connection
between interrogative words and focus. In constituent questions, this relation
is reflected in that wh-words move to SpecFocP. In polar questions, the effect
of focus is manifested in their focus-dependent semantics. This work shows that
there is an important parallel between polar and constituent questions, and that
focus-sensitive operators, particles, and adverbs function similarly across
different languages. Thus, this dissertation argues in favour of the possibility
that focus-dependency is a general property of interrogatives in Universal Grammar.
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