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Bookmark and Share Paper 2432

WH-words That Go Bump in the Right
Natasha Abner
24-32 (complete paper or proceedings contents)

Abstract

This paper argues that the difference between right peripheral (WH-R) and in situ (WH-in situ) questions in American Sign Language (ASL) is an instantiation of the cross-linguistic dichotomy between clefted and non-clefted questions. Evidence collected from native signers is presented to show that WH-R questions are semantically distinct from their WH-in situ counterparts. WH-R questions (a) carry non-null presuppositions, (b) are exhaustive and (c) are contrastive. An analysis is presented in which WH-R questions are syntactically derived via focus movement of the WH-element and remnant topicalization of the remaining clausal constituent. This analysis provides a means of accounting for the cleft-like semantic properties of the WH-R question as well as its behavior in identificational contexts and multiple WH-questions.

Published in

Proceedings of the 28th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Mary Byram Washburn, Katherine McKinney-Bock, Erika Varis, Ann Sawyer, and Barbara Tomaszewicz
Table of contents
Printed edition: $375.00