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Interrogative slifting in English

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Anders Holmberg


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This paper analyzes English ‘‘wh-slifting’’ sentences (for example, How old is she do you think). We argue that these sentences are not scope-marking constructions nor are they derived by simple clausal pied-piping as an alternative to wh-extraction. We show that such sentences are akin to declarative slifting sentences, but more restricted than the latter particularly in the kinds of evidential predicates they co-occur with. We argue that the slifted question is not first merged as the complement of the main clause, but that the relationship between the two clauses is mediated by an evidential morpheme, which takes the do you think-clause as its specifier. This analysis, which explains several properties of wh-slifting that distinguish it from scope-marking constructions and Basque-type clausal pied-piping, partially reconciles wh-slifting questions with paratactic approaches to quotative constructions

Publication metadata

Author(s): Haddican W, Holmberg A, Tanaka H, Tsoulas G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Lingua

Year: 2014

Volume: 138

Pages: 86-106

Print publication date: 26/11/2013

ISSN (print): 0024-3841

ISSN (electronic): 1872-6135

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.lingua.2013.10.006


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