[Lingtyp] literature on "wh-movement"/constituent interrogatives

Martin Haspelmath haspelmath at shh.mpg.de
Tue Oct 23 08:59:39 UTC 2018

To my mind, the most insightful work on constituent questions is John
Hawkins's paper from 1999 and Chapter 7 of his 2004 book:

Hawkins, John A. 1999. Processing complexity and filler-gap dependencies
across grammars. /Language/ 75. 244-285.
Hawkins, John A. 2004. /Efficiency and complexity in grammars/. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.

The generative literature has been mostly assuming that there is no
substantial variation in how island constraints on question-word
fronting operate, or at least there does not seem to be any influential
proposal for how to account for whatever cross-linguistic variation or
uniformity we find. Hawkins has made such proposals, but his work tends
to be ignored by the generativists, maybe because it does not fit into
their worldview. (Of course, in the 1980s the idea of different kinds of
"bounding nodes" was popular, but that seems to have evaporated.)

There has been quite a bit of psycholinguistically oriented work on
question-word fronting in the last two decades, some of which is
reviewed in this interesting overview paper:

Newmeyer, Frederick J. 2016. Nonsyntactic explanations of island
constraints. /Annual Review of Linguistics/ 2(1). 187¨C210.

But none of this more recent work is cross-linguistically oriented.

I'm not sure one would want to take fronting behaviour as criterial for
the biclausal-monoclausal distinction. In some European languages (e.g.
Russian), there is a contrast between Finite and Infinitival
complements, with only the former disallowing fronting of
question-words. But people normally take the "clause union" to be
something different, I think.

Best wishes,

P.S. A very nice introduction to some key generative ideas about
question-word fronting is given in ¡ì1.5 of Roberts (2007).
(Incidentally, both Hawkins and Roberts are available from b-ok.org.)

Roberts, Ian. 2007. /Diachronic syntax/. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

On 23.10.18 09:20, Nigel Vincent wrote:
> Adam,
> You can find quite a bit about different interrogative patterns in the
> work of Louise Mycock - see this link for her publications including a
> book in preparation: http://users.ox.ac.uk/~cpgl0023/Publications.html
> <http://users.ox.ac.uk/%7Ecpgl0023/Publications.html>
> If we must use such oppositions - and I'd much rather we didn't - her
> approach is as much formal as functional, but since it is couched
> within the framework of LFG, I guess in your terms it can be said to
> 'stick closer to the surface'.
> Best
> Nigel
> Professor Nigel Vincent, FBA MAE
> Professor Emeritus of General & Romance Linguistics
> The University of Manchester
> Linguistics & English Language
> School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
> The University of Manchester
> https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/en/researchers/nigel-vincent(f973a991-8ece-453e-abc5-3ca198c869dc).html
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *From:* Lingtyp [lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org] on behalf
> of Adam James Ross Tallman [ajrtallman at utexas.edu]
> *Sent:* Monday, October 22, 2018 10:48 PM
> *To:* LINGTYP at listserv.linguistlist.org
> *Subject:* [Lingtyp] literature on "wh-movement"/constituent
> interrogatives
> I'm looking at structural differences between constituent
> interrogative sentences and minimally contrastive non-interrogative
> counterparts. The vast majority of the literature is in the generative
> tradition under the guise of wh-movement. I was wondering whether
> anyone point me to functional and/or typological literature that stick
> closer to the surface?
> (Recommendations for particularly good literature in the generative
> tradition are also welcome)
> I'm especially interested in the issue of extracting constituent
> interrogatives out of subordinate clauses. The reason is that I am
> dealing with constructions that I think are indeterminate between
> monoclausal vs. biclausal analyses. I found out that they had
> restrictions on the type of constituent interrogatives they are
> compatible with and I am wondering whether this actually serves as an
> argument that they are biclausal.
> best,
> Adam
> -- 
> Adam J.R. Tallman
> Post-doc, University of Ottawa
> Investigador del Museo de Etnograf¨ªa y Folklore, la Paz
> PhD, UT Austin
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Martin Haspelmath (haspelmath at shh.mpg.de)
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Kahlaische Strasse 10	
D-07745 Jena  
Leipzig University
Institut fuer Anglistik 
IPF 141199
D-04081 Leipzig    

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