Composing Questions

From Linguistic Inquiry Monographs

Composing Questions

By Hadas Kotek

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.
Hardcover $85.00 X £70.00
Paperback $35.00 S £28.00

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Summary

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.

Hardcover

$85.00 X | £70.00 ISBN: 9780262039291 232 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 10 b&w illus.

Paperback

$35.00 S | £28.00 ISBN: 9780262536547 232 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 10 b&w illus.

Endorsements

  • 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