Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 1105–1143 | Cite as

Wh-Fronting in a two-probe system

  • Hadas Kotek


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, [DP which 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.


Wh-movement Q-particles Superiority Probe-goal relations 



I am grateful to the audiences at WCCFL 30, GLOW 35, the Hebrew University/Tel-Aviv University syntax-semantics reading group, Syntax Square at MIT, and the Fall 2011 workshop at MIT. For many discussions and comments, I would like to thank David Pesetsky, Danny Fox, Norvin Richards, Martin Hackl, Shigeru Miyagawa, Irene Heim, Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine, Omer Preminger, Micha Breakstone, Hagit Borer, and Satoshi Tomioka. Finally, many thanks to three anonymous referees for Natural Language and Linguistic Theory and to Marcel den Dikken for their constructive and helpful comments on the pre-final version of this paper. All remaining errors are my own.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

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

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