LINGUIST List 5.400

Wed 06 Apr 1994

Sum: Question Particles

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  1. , Question particles (summary)

Message 1: Question particles (summary)

Date: Thu, 31 Mar 1994 18:53:41 Question particles (summary)
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Subject: Question particles (summary)

My original question to LINGUIST List: Vol-5-540. Sat 26 Mar 1994:
>Can anyone cite recent works on the categorial status, classification, and
>nature of question particles (e.g. _li_ / _czy_ / _ci_ for yes-no questions
>in Slavic languages, -ne in Latin)? Please write to
>(Wayles Browne).
Responses (here slightly shortened) were mostly from Slavists, but we
begin with a Romanist:

Julie Auger <>:
 Here are a couple of references about the interrogative
particle "-ti/-tu" of Non-Standard French and Franco-Provencal.
This particle has been very little studied, but these works should
give you a pretty good idea of its syntactic and morphological
behavior. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to get in
touch with me, since this is a topic I intend to cover in my
almost-finished dissertation.

Kayne, Richard S. 1983. "Chains, categories external to S, and
 French complex inversion". Natural Language and Linguistic
 Theory 1:107-139. (pp. 126-127)
Muller, Claude. 1984. "L'inversion du sujet clitique en francais et
 la syntaxe du sujet". Lingvisticae Investigationes 8.2:335-
 362. (pp. 351-352)
Picard, Marc. 1991. "Clitics, affixes and the question marker 'tu'
 in Canadian French". Journal of French Language Studies
Picard, Marc. 1992. "Aspects synchroniques et diachroniques du tu
 interrogatif en quebecois". Revue quebecoise de linguistique
Roberts, Ian. 1991. "The nature of subject clitics in Franco-
 provencal Valdotain". In Henk van Riemsdijk & Luigi Rizzi.
 (eds.). Clitics and their hosts; Eurotyp Working Papers.
 Tilburg: Tilburg University, pp. 303-330.
Roberts, Ian. 1993. Verbs and Diachronic Syntax. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

"George Fowler h(317)726-1482 o(812)855-2829" <GFOWLERUCS.INDIANA.EDU>:
In the next Journal of Slavic Linguistics, now at the printers,
there's a paper on Russian _li_ by Tracy Holloway King, a
recent Ph.D. from Stanford. Her paper includes an appendix discussing
Serbo-Croatian and Bulgarian.

Loren Allen Billings <BILLINGSpucc.Princeton.EDU>:
I'm interested in _li_ in Russian and Slavic. There's work on this
in Tracy H. King's 1993 Stanford dissertation, a GB and LFG treatment of
topic and focus in CSR. As for _chy_, I've located two examples of the
expletive _vono_ in Ukrainian that can co-exist with a nominative NP in
what may well be the same clause. I remember one of these; the other is

<1> Chy vono starshyna pryjde skoro? 'Is the chief coming soon or not?'

Joan Maling wonders whether this type of apparent clefting involves a
distinct clause. That is, is _vono_ part if the cleft clause as is _it_
in English clefts? Probably. (Incidentally, ex. <1> can have a plural
or past-tense to disambiguate the agreement--my modifications, checked
with native speakers:

<2> Chy vono starshyny pryjdut' skoro? 'Are the chiefs coming soon?'
<3> Chy vono starshyna pryjshov skoro? 'Did the chief come soon?'

I'm uncertain about ex. 3; I'm typing it from memory.)

Jindra Toman gave a paper at Formal Approaches to Slavic Languates II
 at MIT last May, discussing so-called
Wackernagel's Law clitics in Czech. Apparently _li_ is distinct
prosodically from the other second-position clitics in that it (_li_),
as opposed to the pronouns and other clitics, actually encliticizes
to the first constituent.The others do not. He also participated in a workshop
at Geneva last summer called "Slavic Clitics and Wackernagel-like effects"
or some such title; the schedule was published in his Syntax Newsletter, May
'92 edition. I believe Toman's address is USERHEEMUMICHUB.BITNET.

Finally, there's someon at Harvard Slavic working on discourse clitics in
Russian, Lillian Parrott (
Lilli and I will be presenting coordinated papers at the discourse-clitics
panel at AATSEEL in San Diego in December 1994, chaired by
Olga Yokoyama.

My own work on clitics involves an Optimality-theoretic look at W's Law
clitics, especially _li_. I'm just beginning it. But here's the main
idea: I would suppose that _li_ is a quantifier-complementizer. Jane Grimshaw,
citing Richard Kayne, posits that _if_, unlike _whether_ is in C-zero, not
Spec CP (where _whether_ is). As you surely know, Czech uses _jestli_ 'if'
as 'whether', but this is an aside. If _li_ is a quantifier, then it
should have scope over even the initial element it is enclitic to. But,
since it is prosodically incomplete, and specified prosodically as suffixal,
we get the syntax-prosody paradox of "_li_ has to be first syntactically
but must follow something prosodiacally". The optimal compromise is for
_li_ to be suffixal to one and only one word. You get my drift.

 I unfortunately cannot provide any references concerning question
particles in Slavic, but you might also want to examine the situation
in Lithuanian, which uses the particle "ar~" in exactly the same way
as "czy" in Polish and "ci" in Belorussian (i.e. as a clause-initial
interrogative marker, e.g. "Ar~ turi' lai~ko?" ('Do you have time'),
Ar~ z'inote? ('Do you know?), cf. P Czy masz czas?, Czy wiesz?
Br. Ci ty majesh chas?, Ci ty vedajesh?; and as a disjunctive conjunc-
tion, e.g. "Tai~p ar~ ne?" 'Yes or no?', cf. P Tak czy nie? Br Tak ci ne?).
 It seems to me that the clause-initial interrogative particle which
also functions as a disjunctive conjunction is an areal feature
encompassing Polish, Belorussian and Ukrainian (as well as some
Russian transitional dialects), possibly some dialects of Slovak, Lithuanian,
as well as some northeastern European varieties of Yiddish. The geographical
distribution suggests that Polish was most likely the source, although the
particle "ci" (originally the instrumental form of CS *ch'to) is presumed
to have been present as an interrogative marker in Common Slavic, so its
occurrence as an interrogative particle in Slavic languages other than
Polish may not necessarily be due to borrowing. It should be mentioned,
however, that clause-initial "ci" (or "chy") doesn't show up in Old
Belorussian and Ukrainian texts until the 15th-17th centuries, while "li" is
still widely used in texts with minimal Church Slavonic influence (e.g.
"Borzdo li maet pryexati pan Tryshchan?" from the 16th-century Belorussian
translation of the Romance of Tristan and Isolde). On the other hand, Polish
texts up until the 16th century tend to use the particles "aza" or "azali"
rather than "czy" in the same function, so we might be dealing here
with a common Polish-Belorussian-Ukrainian innovation that arose in
a linguistically mixed area.

Curt Woolhiser
University of South Carolina (Kjetil Raa Hauge):
I am sure it hasn't escaped you that there is an article by Tanja
Avgustinova on Bulgarian clitics in the latest Journal of Slavic
Linguistics, although she doesn't say much about "the categorial status,
classification, and nature" of li, but rather more about its syntax.
-- Kjetil Raa Hauge, U. of Oslo; on sabbatical in St. Petersburg, Russia
-- Tel. +7812/275-40-24, fax +7812/213-19-92
-- Permanent e-mail:

Catherine Rudin cites her works, and so (!) does Frank Gladney.
I seem to remember Catherine Rudin's aritcle in NLLT 6 (1988) has nodes for
question particles. (catherine rudin):
Do you have my paper on "li" in Bulgarian? Maria Luisa Rivero, Tracy
Holloway King, and Roumjana Izvorski have all written about "li" in Bulgarian
and/or S.-C. and/or Russian -- I assume you're familiar with their work?
There seems to be a general assumption that "li" is C, though most of us
haven't given very strong arguments for this.
[A selection of recent references:
Izvorska, Roumjana 1993. Abstract of conference presentations, Slavic
Syntax Newsletter (ed. J.Toman) 3.2, Dec. 1993.
King, Tracy Holloway 1993. "Configuring Topic and Focus in Russian."
Stanford University Ph.D. dissertation.
Progovac, Ljiljana 1994. "Clitics in Serbian/Croatian: Comp as the Second
Position." Ms., Wayne State University.
Rivero, Maria Luisa 1993. "Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian Yes-No Questions.
V[zero] raising to -li vs. Li-hopping." Linguistic Inquiry 24.3: 567-575.
-- 1994. "On two locations for complement clitic pronouns: Serbo-Croatian,
Bulgarian, and Old Spanish." Paper for Third Diachronic Generative Syntax
Conference, Amsterdam, March 1994.
C. Rudin 1986, _Aspects of Bulgarian Syntax: Complementizers and Wh
Constructions_. Columbus: Slavica Publishers.
-- 1988, "On multiple questions and multiple Wh-fronting." Natural Language
and Linguistic Theory 6:445-501.
-- 1993a, "On Focus Position and Focus Marking in Bulgarian Questions."
FLSM (Formal Linguistics Society of the Midwest) Proceedings.
-- 1993b, "On the Syntax of Li questions in Bulgarian." Presented at
AATSEEL meeting, Toronto. (Revises some conclusions from 1993a.)
-- to appear, "Kakvo li e LI? Interrogation and focusing in Bulgarian." In
Festschrift for Zbigniew Golab, ed. V. Friedman and M. Belyavski-Frank.

Papers dealing with clitic placement in Serbo-Croatian necessarily
deal with _li_, since this is the first member of the clitic group.
Unfortunately their authors, both those who are native speakers of one of
the language's standards and those who are not, frequently argue on
the basis of examples which are disputed by other authors. An attempt
to clear up the differences is Carson T. Schu"tze, "Serbo-
Croatian Second Position Clitic Placement and the Phonology-Syntax
Interface," to appear in Andrew Carnie et al., Papers on Phonology and
Morphology = MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 21.
Further references and comments very welcome.--W.B.]
Wayles Browne, Assoc. Prof. of Linguistics
Dept. of Modern Languages, Morrill Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York 14853, U.S.A.
tel. 607-255-0712
e-mail (formerly and
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