Journal of East Asian Linguistics

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 307–356 | Cite as

The syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of covert pied-piping in Sinhala and Japanese Wh-questions

  • Hisashi MoritaEmail author


This paper is a study of Japanese and Sinhala wh-questions, both of which employ a special particle called a Q-particle, ka in Japanese and in Sinhala, forming QP. A Q-particle is normally base-generated adjacent to a wh-phrase or at the edge of an island when a wh-phrase is inside. However, under very restricted circumstances, a Q-particle can merge with TP, and the whole TP can be pied-piped to spec of CP. An information-seeking wh-question normally represents a set of unvalued propositions (i.e. Hamblin set); however, we claim there are cases in which a set of true propositions (i.e. Karttunen set) can be the meaning of an information-seeking wh-question, and this happens when TP pied-piping is applied. Each circumstance in which such pied-piping is possible is carefully analyzed.


Degree questions Know/investigate/wonder class predicates Informative answers Intervention effects Answerhood operator Information focus de re/de dicto Existential presupposition 



I am very thankful to five anonymous reviewers of Journal of East Asian Linguistics. Thanks to them, this paper has gone through extensive revisions and dramatic improvement. Earlier drafts were presented in WIGL (Workshop in Generative Linguistics) 11 and GLOW in Asia X in May, 2014, FAJL (Formal Approaches to Japanese Linguistics) 7 in June, 2014, SICOGG (Seoul International Conference on Generative Grammar) 17 in August, 2015, and a linguistics seminar at the University of Tromso in January, 2017. I would like to thank the audience for important questions and suggestions, particularly Jun Abe, Kazuma Fujimaki, Namkil Kang, Hideki Kishimoto, Yasuyuki Kitao, Daiho Kitaoka, Bjørn Lundquist, Sergey Minor, Shigeru Miyagawa, Manabu Mizuguchi, Takashi Munakata, Omer Preminger, Gillian Ramchand, Koji Sugisaki, Peter Svenonius, Kaori Takamine, Tarald Taraldsen, Yukiko Ueda, Tharanga Weerasooriya, and Barry Yang. Discussions with Yimei Xiang, Seth Cable and Norvin Richards were invaluable too. Many thanks go to Tilak and Punya Senanayake, and Vishaka Illankoon for grammatical judgment of Sinhala examples, and Liang Morita for stylistic suggestions and continuous encouragement. This study has been supported in part by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (#18K00540).


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of British and American StudiesAichi Prefectural UniversityNagakuteJapan

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