Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 1105–1143

Wh-Fronting in a two-probe system

Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11049-014-9238-8

Cite this article as:
Kotek, H. Nat Lang Linguist Theory (2014) 32: 1105. doi:10.1007/s11049-014-9238-8

Abstract

Prior work on wh-movement has distinguished among several types of wh-fronting languages that permit distinct patterns of overt and covert movement, instantiated for example by the Slavic languages, English, and German. This paper extends the cross-linguistic typology of multiple questions by arguing that Hebrew instantiates a new kind of wh-fronting language, unlike any that are discussed in the current literature. It will show that Hebrew distinguishes between two kinds of interrogative phrases: those that are headed by a wh-word (wh-headed phrases: what, who, [DPwhich X], where, how…) and those that contain a wh-word but are headed by some other element (wh-containing phrases: [NP N of wh], [PP P wh]). We observe the special status of wh-headed phrases when one occurs structurally lower in a question than a wh-containing phrase. In that case, the wh-headed phrase can be targeted by an Agree/Attract operation that ignores the presence of the c-commanding wh-containing phrase. The paper develops an account of the sensitivity of interrogative probing operations to the head of the interrogative phrase within Cable’s (2010) Q-particle theory. It proposes that the Hebrew Q has an EPP feature which can trigger head-movement of wh to Q and that a wh-probe exists alongside the more familiar Q-probe, and shows how these two modifications to the theory can account for the intricate dataset that emerges from the paper. The emerging picture is one in which interrogative probing does not occur wholesale but rather can be sensitive to particular interrogative features on potential goals.

Keywords

Wh-movementQ-particlesSuperiorityProbe-goal relations

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Linguistics and PhilosophyMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA