Composing Questions

Composing Questions

by Hadas Kotek


View All Available Formats & Editions
Usually ships within 1 week


An investigation of the syntax and semantics of wh-questions through the lens of intervention effects, offering a new proposal on overt and covert wh -movement.

In this book, Hadas Kotek investigates the syntax and semantics of wh-questions, offering a new solution to a central question in the study of interrogatives: given that overt wh-movement is cross-linguistically common, is syntactic movement a prerequisite for the interpretation of wh -phrases? Some linguists argue that all wh-phrases undergo movement to interrogative C, even if covertly; others propose mechanisms of in-situ interpretation that do not require any movement. Kotek moves beyond these positions to argue that wh -in-situ does move covertly, but not necessarily to C. Instead, she contends, wh -in-situ undergoes a short movement step akin to covert scrambling. This makes the LF behavior of English parallel to the overt behavior of German.

Kotek presents a series of self-paced reading experiments, alongside judgment data from German, to substantiate the idea of covert scrambling. She introduces new diagnostics for the underlying structure of questions, using as a principal tool the distribution of intervention effects. This system allows her to offer the first unified account for a range of phenomena of interrogative syntax-semantics as pied-piping, superiority effects, the cross-linguistically varied syntax of questions, and intervention effects.

Kotek develops a theory of interrogative syntax-semantics; studies the phenomena of intervention effects in wh -questions, proposing that the nature of intervention is crucially tied to the availability of wh-movement in a question; and shows that covert wh -movement should be modeled as a short scrambling operation rather than an unbounded, successive-cyclic, and potentially long-distance movement operation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262039291
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 02/19/2019
Series: Linguistic Inquiry Monographs , #80
Pages: 232
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Hadas Kotek is a Lecturer at Yale University.

Table of Contents

Series Foreword vii

Acknowledgments ix

Notation xi

1 Introduction 1

1.1 Questions and Their Interpretation 2

1.2 Intervention Effects and Covert Movement 4

1.3 Covert Wh-Scrambling 7

I A Theory Of Wh-Questions 9

2 Background: Wh-Questions 11

2.1 Two Types of Semantics for Questions 12

2.2 Two Approaches to Wh-in-Situ 14

2.3 Superiority Effects 17

2.4 Presuppositions and the Readings of Multiple Wh-Questions 20

2.5 Appendix: Wh-in-Situ and Antecedent-Contained Deletion 25

3 The Syntax and Semantics of Wh-Questions 29

3.1 The Desiderata 29

3.2 The Proposal 30

3.3 Simplex Wh-Questions 32

3.4 Superiority-Obeying Multiple Wh-Questions 34

3.5 Superiority-Violating Multiple Wh-Questions 39

3.6 Quiz-Master Questions and Nested Which-Phrases 43

3.7 Appendix 1: AltShift and Declarative Sentences 44

3.8 Appendix 2: Wiltschko's Observation 46

4 Crosslinguistic Variation in Interrogative Syntax 51

4.1 Wh-Fronting Languages without Covert Movement 51

4.2 Multiple Wh-Fronting Languages 54

4.3 Wh-in-Situ Languages 60

4.4 Combined Strategies for Question Formation 66

4.5 Pied-Piping 69

II Wh-Intervention Effects 77

5 Intervention Effects: The State of the Art 79

5.1 Some Basic Data 79

5.2 Intervention: An Informal Description 84

5.3 Beck's (2006) Theory of Intervention Effects 86

5.4 On the Surviving Single-Pair Reading of "Intervened" Questions 90

6 Intervention Correlates with Movement Possibilities For Wh-in-Situ 93

6.1 Intervention in Superiority-Obeying Questions 94

6.2 Missing Intervention Effects in Superiority-Violating Questions 99

6.3 Intervention Is an LF Phenomenon 104

III Covert Wh-Scrambling 107

7 Covert Wh-Movement as Covert Scrambling 109

7.1 Intervention Effects in Multiple Wh-Questions with Islands 110

7.2 Covert Movement and the Nature of Syntactic Derivations 116

7.3 Evidence for Covert Wh-Scrambling 123

7.4 Some Consequences 126

8 Processing Evidence for Covert Scrambling 128

8.1 Three Approaches to Covert Movement 129

8.2 Experimental Background 131

8.3 Experimental Evidence for Covert Scrambling 142

8.4 A Hamblin Semantics with Covert Scrambling 163

8.5 Appendix: Materials for Experiments 1-3 165

9 Epilogue 169

Notes 173

References 191

Index 207

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Essential reading on the syntax and semantics of interrogatives. Kotek develops a beautifully elegant compositional semantics for interrogatives, demonstrates its applicability to an impressive variety of constructions in typologically diverse languages, and verifies its predictions through both classic judgment tasks and self-paced reading experiments.

Seth Cable , Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst; author of The Grammar of Q: Q-Particles, Wh-Movement and Pied-Piping

Composing Questions offers a comprehensive study of the syntax and semantics of multiple wh -questions. Using intervention effects as a tool, Kotek offers new data, ingenious diagnostics, and experimental evidence, which will convince any skeptic that in-situ wh -phrases undergo covert wh -movement.

Lisa Cheng , Department of Linguistics, Leiden University, the Netherlands

With Composing Questions , Hadas Kotek has written an important book for anybody interested in multiple wh -questions and intervention effects.

Angelika Kratzer , Department of Philosophy, University College London, and Department of Linguistics, University of Massachusetts Amherst; author of Modals and Conditionals and coauthor of Semantics in Generative Grammar

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews