This article investigates the interrogative syntax of two Tano languages of Ghana (Krachi and Wasa), focusing on the distribution of wh- in-situ. Each language reveals a challenging set of distributional puzzles as well as a subtle pattern of variation. We argue that prosodic licensing is a crucial dimension regulating the distribution of wh- in-situ in the Tano languages. While considerations at the syntax-semantics interface surely play an equally prominent role in the licensing of certain in-situ interrogatives both in Tano and cross-linguistically, we restrict our attention in this paper to cases where syntactic and semantic considerations appear immaterial in the licensing of wh- in-situ. Our claim is that wh- items are subject to a prosodic licensing condition requiring them to be internal to Intonational Phrase upon spell-out of the C phase. Under this analysis, the ability of a wh- item to appear in an in-situ position correlates with the prosodic status of its immediately containing clause. Because the prosodic status of clauses can vary from language to language, it becomes possible to reduce the variation in wh- in-situ observed in these two languages to a difference in how their syntactic structures are externalized at PF by way of prosodic mapping.
Selected Proceedings of the 44th Annual Conference on African Linguistics
edited by Ruth Kramer, Elizabeth C. Zsiga, and One Tlale Boyer Table of contents
ISBN 978-1-57473-465-2 library binding
v + 301 pages
publication date: 2015
published by Cascadilla Proceedings Project, Somerville, MA, USA