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Lecture | Com(parative) Syn(tax) Series

The morphosyntax of wh-paradigms and wh-copying

Thursday 19 May 2022
Com(parative) Syn(tax) Series
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


This talk addresses the question of how grammars can classify wh-elements into construction-specific paradigms. The paradigmatic nature of wh-elements can be observed in different ways in externalization. One such ways pertains to the distinction between e.g. interrogative vs relative elements, which can assume different morphophonological and morphosyntactic properties in different languages (e.g. Standard Dutch interrogative wie vs relative die, Italian interrogative che vs relative cui, etc.; cf. Rugna to appear). Furthermore, in so-called wh-copying constructions (e.g. Felser 2004, Barbiers et al. 2009), languages can spell-out intermediate copies differently from the copy at scope position, and in disparate ways (e.g., as free relative pronouns in German (Pankau 2013), as headed relative pronouns in Dutch (Barbiers et al. 2009, Boef 2013), as full-fledged copies in Afrikaans (Lohndal 2010), as personal pronouns in Seereer (Baier 2018)), a seemingly problematic state of affairs under the Copy Theory of Movement. Assuming that the grammar bars construction-specific features (e.g. [+interrogative] [+relative]; Chomsky 1981), questions arise as to the nature of wh-elements and their interaction with Merge and the interfaces. In this talk we attempt to address such issues by arguing in favor of a minimalist framework that eschews morphosyntactic features and relegates most morphophonological operations at the mapping with PHON."

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