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Query Details

Query Subject:   Ambiguity and 'that' in (wh-) Questions
Author:   John Winward
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Syntax

Query:   I'm doing research on the acquisition of wh- movement by Thai L1 speakers,
using truth value judgement tests on ambiguous question structures that can
be disambiguated by using island effects, superiority etc.

There's an issue here that looks really basic, but for which I can't seem
to find any references in the literature:

a. Why does John believe Mary is unhappy?
b. Why does John believe that Mary is unhappy?

To my ears at least, while a. is ambiguous between a matrix and embedded
clause reading: 'because he saw her crying' vs. 'because she failed her
exams', b. forces a matrix-clause reading: 'because he saw her crying';
*'because she failed her exams' (it doesn't seem to apply in relative
clauses though).

Is there a standard explanation, that I've somehow managed to miss? Sorry
if this is a dumb question - I'm working a long way away from the
mainstream out here...

LL Issue: 17.2296
Date posted: 10-Aug-2006


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