A number of recent papers have examined the syntactic status of polar answers to yes/no questions like Sí/No in Spanish or "Yes/No" in English (Holmberg 2012, Kramer & Rawlins 2011, among others). However, since the discussion in Laka 1990, comparatively little has been said about embedded polar answers (EPAs). This paper examines the distribution of EPAs in Spanish. EPAs are shown to be available under predicates like creer "think", as in Creo que sí "I think so", but not under predicates like lamenter "regret", as in *Lamento que sí "*I regret so". The authors propose that there are two classes of predicates that select different types of complements: +EPA predicates take non-referential clauses and -EPA predicates take referential clauses. In addition, the authors claim that the que that obligatorily appears in Spanish EPA constructions is the same que that precedes wh-words in Suñer's (1991 et seq.) indirect questions and that in both of these cases this que signals that the embedded clause is non-referential. This que is further argued to signal that non-referential clauses are structurally more complex than referential clauses, which cannot serve as polar answers or indirect questions and do not appear with this que. More evidence for this structural difference is provided from different patterns for the availability of clitic left dislocation under +EPA and -EPA predicates.
Selected Proceedings of the 16th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Jennifer Cabrelli Amaro, Gillian Lord, Ana de Prada Pérez, and Jessi Elana Aaron
Table of contents