This monograph focuses on an interesting typological property shared by
four languages: the ungrammaticality of multiple wh-questions in Irish,
Berber, Italian and Somali. It contains a broad discussion of data related
to the grammar of wh-questions, a comparative analysis of wh-constructions
in the four languages, and a theoretical account for the observed
phenomenon. The analysis is based on the minimalist syntax theory as
developed by Chomsky since 1995. It takes up the standard assumption that
wh-phrases are typical representatives of elements bearing new information,
in theoretical terms referred to as information focus. Most importantly, in
the languages without multiple wh-questions the information focus is
licensed in a unique syntactic position. The basic claim is that languages
with unique focus are languages without multiple wh-questions. The analysis
makes possible the classification of the languages without multiple
wh-questions into the crosslinguistic typology of wh-constructions.
Furthermore, this book is a contribution to the better understanding of
information structure in natural languages, especially of focusing phenomena.