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Circumventing Shortest with the Additive —kin in Finnish Binary Wh-questions
Karoliina Lohiniva and Anne Vainikka
260-269 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


In this paper, we discuss the syntax and semantics of Finnish binary wh-questions from the perspective of Shortest (Richards, 1997). In Finnish, binary wh-questions come in two morphosyntactically distinct types: either the wh-phrase that stays in situ in surface syntax is bare, or it carries the additive clitic –kin (Huhmarniemi & Vainikka, 2011). Crucially, bare wh-phrases are suitable goals for wh-attraction, while wh-kin phrases are not. We give an intervention-based analysis of this difference, explaining why the wh-kin type does not comply with either Shortest Attract (as evidenced by the lack of Superiority effects) or Shortest Move (as evidenced by the interpretation of the question). Indeed, although island-sensitivity and sorting key data indicate that wh-kin phrases and bare wh-phrases both move covertly, wh-kin phrases are interpreted above fronted wh-phrases, while bare wh-phrases are interpreted below them. To explain this pattern, we propose that the operator associated with the appearance of –kin carries a topic feature, and this feature drives the covert movement of the wh-kin phrase to a high TopP above FocP.

Published in

Proceedings of the 36th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Richard Stockwell, Maura O'Leary, Zhongshi Xu, and Z.L. Zhou
Table of contents
Printed edition: $395.00