LINGUIST List 33.310

Wed Jan 26 2022

Books: Why is ‘Why’ Unique?: Soare (ed.)

Editor for this issue: Billy Dickson <>

Date: 18-Oct-2021
From: Birgit Sievert <>
Subject: Why is ‘Why’ Unique?: Soare (ed.)
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Title: Why is ‘Why’ Unique?
Subtitle: Its Syntactic and Semantic Properties
Series Title: Studies in Generative Grammar
Published: 2021
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton

Book URL:

Editor: Gabriela Soare
Electronic: ISBN: 9783110675160 Pages: 324 Price: U.S. $ 137.99
Hardback: ISBN: 9783110675115 Pages: 324 Price: U.S. $ 137.99

The book considers the behaviour of this peculiar wh-element across many different languages, including Ewe, Trevisan, Italian, Basque, German, Dutch, Cantonese, Mandarin, English and Hebrew. In ten original chapters, the authors explore various aspects of why-questions, such as the way why interacts with V2 constructions in Basque, with a subject clitic in Trevisan or how its morpho-syntactic make-up determines its merge position in Ewe, to mention but a few. Furthermore, a clear-cut distinction is established between high and low reason adverbials which are subsequently examined in why-stripping environments in Dutch.

Beyond why proper, the book explores a special class of wh-expressions in some in-situ languages which give rise to unexpected why-construals with a touch of whining force. The objective is to explain the unusual syntactic position of these wh-expressions as well as their association with peculiar pragmatics. The questions are addressed for Cantonese: are what-initial sentences genuine questions? To what extent are Cantonese what-initial sentences similar to how-initial sentences in Mandarin? Beside these what-as-why questions, a special class of rhetorical questions, the doubly-marked interrogatives in Hebrew, come under scrutiny.

Why is ‘why’ unique also concerns the interface with prosody and several experimental studies investigate precisely this aspect.

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics

Written In: English (eng)

See this book announcement on our website:

Page Updated: 26-Jan-2022