Hadas Kotek, What Hebrew multiple questions can teach us about interrogative probing, and how (15/01)

posted Jan 11, 2012, 5:27 AM by Luka Crnic   [ updated Jul 3, 2012, 3:13 PM ]

(The meeting will take place at 2:30 PM in Rosenberg 211.)

The study of 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 talk extends the cross-linguistic typology of multiple questions by arguing that Hebrew instantiates a new kind of wh-fronting language, unlike any that are presently discussed in the literature. I will show that Hebrew distinguishes between two kinds of wh-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]).

The evidence for the existence of two kinds of wh-phrases will come from three sources: superiority, intervention effects and possible readings of the questions. 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 Agree/Attract operations that ignore the presence of wh- containing phrases in the same structure.

I develop an account of the sensitivity of interrogative probing operations to the head of the wh-phrase within Q-particle theory. I propose 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 I show how these two modest modifications to the theory can account for the intricate dataset that emerges from the talk, which is otherwise left unexplained