Questions using the so-called est-ce que strategy are found in many languages, but the full extent of their properties remains to be investigated. In this paper, we focus on the syntax of these questions in Cypriot Greek (henceforth CG). They involve the element embu, hence the name, embu Wh- questions. We propose a mono-clausal analysis of embu questions where embu instantiates a Wh- head. We furthermore show that the behaviour and positional restrictions of the element embu with respect to other left peripheral elements lead us to postulate certain processes of reanalysis. Given that the embu Wh- questions display similarities with their French and European Portuguese counterparts, we demonstrate that the analysis plausibly extends to these languages too. The paper is organised as follows: Section 2 presents the basic data on embu questions and briefly reviews their French and European Portuguese counterparts, as well as the different approaches in the literature to the syntactic status of est-ce que and é que. In section 3, we offer arguments against a bi-clausal analysis of embu questions. Our analysis is presented in section 4. In section 5, we return to European Portuguese and French. Section 6 concludes the paper.
In this section, we provide the empirical motivation for our proposal. Although we focus on the CG case, we show that the relevant strategy goes well beyond CG. We briefly present similar constructions in French and European Portuguese and review the disagreements in the literature with respect to the status of the embu counterparts in French and European Portuguese.
CG displays two patterns of Wh- question formation with no semantic difference. They both involve movement. One of the two patterns, which is only attested in CG and not in Standard Mainland Greek, includes the element embu following the Wh- word. Consider examples (1)–(4).
The examples in (1)–(4) show both Wh- patterns in CG, the dialectal one, which involves embu and the Standard Mainland Greek one, which does not.1
The syntactic status of embu is unclear. According to Grohmann, Panagiotidis & Tsiplakou (2006) (henceforth GPT) and Agouraki (2010), embu is the contracted form of the copula en ‘is’ and the complementiser pu ‘that’. This is reminiscent of the est-ce que strategy in Romance languages. Nevertheless, embu displays a number of syntactic peculiarities, which we need to attend to first, before we settle on a particular analysis.
Embu is optional in Wh- questions (cf. (1a)–(1g) and (2)–(4)), except for Wh- arguments introduced by the dialectal Wh- word inda ‘what’ (cf. (1h) and (1i)), where it is obligatory in the contracted form ’mbu (GPT). Note further that embu/’mbu is not obligatory with other dialectal Wh- words/phrases in CG. It is also not obligatory with inda Wh- adjuncts (cf. (1f) and (1i)).
With complex inda Wh- phrases, ’mbu cannot occur between inda and the noun (5). As (4) (repeated below as (6)) shows, embu, but not ’mbu, can optionally occur in a position following the complex Wh- phrase.
The embu-strategy with the same asymmetric optionality characteristics is also used in embedded interrogatives. Consider the following:
Note that, not only the use of embu is the same in root and embedded questions, but, also, subject-verb inversion applies in both root and embedded embu Wh- questions (cf. (7) vs. (10) below).
The embu strategy also occurs in Yes/No questions. In these interrogatives, a non-Wh- element appears in the position preceding embu (cf. (11)).
Embu may not be used in Yes/No questions in which no such element precedes embu (cf. (13)).
The embu strategy, therefore, may be used to form a Yes/No question provided that an element appears in the clause-initial position preceding embu as in the case of Wh- words.
Embu may also appear in declaratives under certain conditions. There is, however, a disagreement in the literature regarding the status of the relevant data. On the one hand, Gryllia & Lekakou (2007), Fotiou (2009) and Agouraki (2010) have proposed that the embu strategy also occurs in focalizing constructions. GPT, on the other hand, take these cases to be rather marginal. They claim that (14) is ungrammatical, because movement of the focused clefted element is not allowed in CG clefts.
Although we tend to concur with GPT regarding the status of (14), similar sentences seem much improved, especially when a quantificational adverb precedes embu. (15) is such an example.
O Jannis is a topic in (15). In section 4.2.2, we will propose a unified analysis for these cases.
Although it is tempting to follow GPT, Panagidou (2009) and Agouraki (2010) in seeing embu as a contracted form of the copula en and the complementiser pu, there is a set of properties of this element that need to be looked at, before providing a syntactic analysis for it.
The alleged copula in embu does not inflect for past tense in (16). If, indeed, embu is the contracted form of the copula en and the complementiser pu, the copula appears only in the en form, which is the present tense form of both singular and plural third person in CG.
The same holds for the embu Yes/No question in (11), where embu does not agree for person and number with esi ‘you’ (cf. embu (11) instead of ise ‘are.2.SG’ pu ‘that’ in (18)).
It must be noted, though, that there is a discrepancy in the literature as to whether embu may or may not bear inflection. GPT and Panagidou (2009) argued that embu may inflect for tense, whereas we argue, on a par with Agouraki (2010), Kanikli (2011a) and Papadopoulou (2014), that embu may not inflect for tense (cf. (17)). The case is reminiscent of a similar disagreement, which exists in the literature of est-ce que interrogatives in Romance languages.
Obenauer (1977), Harris (1978), Lefebvre (1982), Blanche-Benveniste et al. (1984), Rooryck (1994), Cheng & Rooryck (2000) and others argue that est-ce que is inert for inflection, whereas others, such as Langacker (1965), maintain that est-ce que may bear inflection (cf. (22) and (28)). Munaro & Pollock (2005) claim that est-ce que is inert for inflection only in embedded interrogatives and que, pourquoi and comment root interrogatives.
The following sections present the est-ce que Romance interrogatives and the different approaches to the status of est-ce que and é que in these structures.
Wh- questions in European Portuguese, both root and embedded, can be formed using the é que structure (cf. examples (19a) and (19b) quoted from Soares 2003: 153, 159). É que questions alternate with interrogative structures which do not involve é que (cf. examples (20a) and (20b) quoted from Soares 2003: 148, 158). The case is reminiscent of the CG data, where embu questions alternate with questions, which do not involve the embu structure.
É que questions share many properties with the CG embu questions. É is the third person singular present tense form of the copula ser ‘be’ and que is a complementiser (cf. embu in CG). According to Duarte (2000), and Costa & Duarte (2001), the copula assumed to be involved in é que lacks tense and agreement features (21).2É que appears invariably in this form in all interrogatives. On these grounds, Duarte (2000) argued for a mono-clausal analysis of é que questions.
Nevertheless, as already noted, there is a discrepancy in the literature of é que questions, similar to the one of the CG embu questions, as to whether é que may inflect for tense. Soares (2003) argues, contra Duarte (2000), that é que can bear inflection in interrogatives. On this basis, she proposes that é occupies a different position from que. However, she does not assume that é occupies I0. Although she maintains that é can be inflected for tense, she assumes that it is “directly generated in the CP” (Soares 2003: 155).
In section 5, we return to the status of é que in European Portuguese questions. We examine syntactic properties of é que questions, which are similar to embu questions and have not been addressed in the literature, and explore whether the analysis proposed for the CG interrogatives can be applied to the European Portuguese data. We now turn to French est-ce que questions.
The est-ce que question formation strategy is optionally used in some interrogatives (22), whereas it is obligatory in some others. Consider examples (23) and (24).
Est-ce que must co-occur with que ‘what’ in (24) (cf. (23)). Up to this point, the French data appears to be strikingly similar to the CG one. Note, though, that there is a significant difference in between the obligatoriness of est-ce que in que ‘what’ Wh- questions and the obligatoriness of embu in inda ‘what’ Wh- questions. ’Mbu is obligatory in both inda Wh- objects and Wh- subjects (cf. examples (1h) and (1i)). Est-ce que, though, is obligatory only in que Wh- subjects.3
The examples in (25), (26) and (27) are Wh- objects. Obviously, est-ce que is optional in these interrogatives. A que Wh- object can be formed using the est-ce que structure (cf. (25)), Subject Clitic Inversion (SCLI) (cf. (26)) or Stylistic Inversion (cf. (27)) (Munaro & Pollock 2005). In CG inda Wh- arguments, though, inda may occur only with ’mbu.
Another property that est-ce que interrogatives share with embu interrogatives in CG is the invariant form in which the copula assumed to be involved in these interrogatives appears (Obenauer 1977; Lefebvre 1982; Plunkett 2004 among others) (cf. example (28) quoted from Plunkett 2004: 155).
(28) shows that inflecting être for tense is ungrammatical. Note that the copula may inflect for tense in interrogatives which involve a cleft (cf. example (29) quoted from Plunkett 2004: 155). On this basis, it has been argued that the so-called est-ce que interrogatives should not be analysed as bi-clausal (Obenauer 1977; Lefebvre 1982 among others).
Nevertheless, as already noted, there is a disagreement in the literature as to whether est-ce que structures should be analysed as bi-clausal or not. In particular, Obenauer (1977), Harris (1978), Lefebvre (1982), Blanche-Benveniste et al. (1984), Rooryck (1994), Cheng & Rooryck (2000) and others argue that est-ce que cannot inflect for tense, thus the structures should be analysed as mono-clausal, whereas others such as Langacker (1965) claim that it can. There is also Munaro & Pollock’s (2005) analysis, according to which the inflection of être for tense is banned only in embedded interrogatives and que ‘what’, pourquoi ‘why’ and comment ‘how’ root interrogatives. On these grounds, Munaro & Pollock (2005) argue that only the aforementioned interrogatives should be analysed as mono-clausal, whereas the other should be analysed as bi-clausal.
It is evident that the ability of est-ce que and é que to inflect for tense was crucial to the pursuit of a bi-clausal or a mono-clausal analysis by the authors. The same holds for the CG data. In order to explore a syntactic analysis for embu questions, the synchronic status of embu must be clarified.
The following section argues that the distribution of sentential adverbs and negative markers in embu Wh- questions provides evidence that embu is a C head and these structures are mono-clausal.
In this section, we provide arguments against a bi-clausal analysis. Based on these arguments, we formulate a mono-clausal analysis in section 4.
A relatively standard bi-clausal analysis of embu interrogatives is that proposed by GPT and involves an embedded clause and a copula as in (30) (quoted from GPT: 91).
There are, however, several issues with this approach.4 We detail them in what follows.
The first argument against approaches that analyze embu interrogatives as bi-clausal structures is the fact that nothing can intervene in between en and pu in embu interrogatives. This is shown by the distribution of adverbs in embu interrogatives (Kanikli 2011a; Papadopoulou 2014). In particular, an adverb may not intervene either between the Wh- word and embu (31), or between the copula en and the complementiser pu of the embedded clause (32) (cf. the grammatical (33) and (34)).
The adverb extes ‘yesterday’ is an adjunct to IP. On the assumption that the examples in (31) and (32) include a copula, we take it that an IP projects above the copula in embu structures. If we assume that en occupies I0, extes should be able to precede embu. If we consider that en further moves to a C projection, it should be able to follow en. This, however, does not hold. As the examples in (31) and (32) show, a sentential adjunct cannot precede or follow the copula assumed to be involved in embu (cf. (33) and (34)).
GPT assume that en cliticizes to pu in embu questions. One could assume that this explains why extes may not intervene between en and pu in (32). However, even if we assume that en cliticizes to pu in embu questions, it should not be able to do so in the presence of an intervening element such as extes.
In fact, assuming that en cliticizes to pu resulting in the contracted form embu, is also problematic under Chomsky & Lasnik’s (1978) approach to contraction (cf. also Hornstein 1999; Boeckx 2000 and others). According to this approach, two elements may not contract in the presence of an intervening copy. All the bi-clausal analyses proposed for embu Wh- questions in the literature (GPT; Panagidou 2009; Agouraki 2010) assume that there is a copy of the Wh- element involved in the structure between en and pu―which are taken to contract into embu. The Wh- element is assumed to be either externally (Agouraki 2010) or internally (GPT; Panagidou 2009) merged in a position between en and pu, and then is taken to further move to the clause initial position leaving a copy behind. Under Chomsky & Lasnik’s (1978) approach to contraction, the intervention of the Wh- copy between en and pu should not allow their contraction into embu. On these assumptions, arguing that embu is the contracted form of en and pu is problematic; therefore, it may not account for the constraints on the distribution of sentential adjuncts in embu Wh- questions.
By contrast, the ungrammaticality of (31) and (32) follows naturally from the proposal that embu does not involve a copula. On an approach that takes embu to be base generated in the C domain without contraction, a sentential adjunct would only be able to adjoin to the single IP in the structure as the data in (33) and (34) confirm.5
The syntactic positions a sentential adjunct may occupy in embu questions support a mono-clausal analysis of embu questions. In the next section, we turn to the position of negation.
A further property of embu Wh- questions which undermines the bi-clausal clefting analysis is the fact that negation cannot precede embu in Wh- questions (35), while it can in clefts (36) (Kanikli 2011a; Papadopoulou 2014). This asymmetry casts doubt on the analysis of embu questions as deriving from a cleft structure, as in that case negation would be able to precede the copula in embu questions (cf. (30)), as it does in clefts.
Negation may only follow embu in Wh- questions. Consider the example in (37).
We take negation to occupy NegP above IP (cf. Roussou 2000). As a result, the fact that en ‘not’ may not precede embu in (37) suggests that embu does not involve a copula.
The ungrammaticality of (35) is unproblematic under a mono-clausal analysis of embu questions. Given that there is only one IP projection in embu interrogatives, there is only one syntactic position available for negation, the one following embu.
To sum up, the constraints on the distribution of sentential adjuncts and negation in embu questions suggest that embu does not involve a copula. Therefore, embu questions should be analysed as mono-clausal.
Having shown that the bi-clausal analysis faces a variety of empirical obstacles, we will now formulate a mono-clausal analysis starting with the syntax of embu Wh- questions, and argue for a Split-CP analysis of the left periphery in CG (Rizzi 1997).
Wh- movement is accompanied by subject inversion, which, as already noted, is obligatory in both root ((38a) and (38b)) and embedded interrogatives ((39a) and (39b)).
Consider first the triggers for Wh- movement and subject inversion.
Rizzi (1996) argued that Wh- movement and subject inversion in interrogatives are triggered by the need to satisfy the Wh- Criterion. According to Rizzi (1996), I0 carries the Wh- feature, which marks the clause as interrogative in main Wh- questions. Therefore, I0 must move to C0 in order to create the required configuration, in which the head bearing the Wh- feature hosts in its specifier the Wh- operator. This analysis may capture the non-embu questions, but not their embu counterparts (cf. (38a)). In embu Wh- questions, embu intervenes between the Wh- operator and the verb destroying the Spec-Head configuration that verb movement is taken to create in order to satisfy the Wh- Criterion. As a result, it is not possible to claim that Wh- movement and subject inversion are triggered by the Wh- Criterion.
In the following section, we show that inversion and Wh- movement are independently triggered.
As already argued, verb movement to C7 could not be triggered by the need to satisfy the Wh- Criterion. A relatively standard account runs as follows: verb movement to C is triggered under agreement by an EPP feature (Chomsky 2004; 2005). We assume that C bears an uT feature (Pesetsky & Torrego 2001) and an EPP feature in both root and embedded interrogatives in CG. T, agrees with C checking uT, and moves to C satisfying its EPP feature.
Wh- movement is also triggered under agreement with C by EPP on C. Chomsky (2000; 2001) proposes that the Wh- element bears an uWh feature and a Q(uestion) feature. C bears a Wh- feature and an uQ(uestion) feature. The Wh- element Agrees with C checking its uWh feature and the uQ feature on C. Assuming Wh- movement and I-to-C movement to be independently triggered offers an insight into languages where the fronted Wh- element may occur with an overt complementiser, but I-to-C movement is banned (see the nonstandard Italian and French varieties data discussed in Benincà 2001); languages where the fronted Wh- element may occur with an overt complementiser and I-to-C movement is obligatory (e.g. CG embu questions); languages where the fronted Wh- element may not occur with an overt complementiser and I-to-C movement is obligatory; and languages where the fronted Wh- element may not occur with an overt complementiser, and I-to-C movement is banned. This analysis also accounts for asymmetries between root and embedded interrogatives in the occurrence of I-to-C movement by attributing a different feature specification to root and embedded C.
Despite the advantages of this analysis, the trigger of Wh- movement and I-to-C movement as described above is problematic. Assuming a single C projection and assuming that an EPP feature is the only element capable of inducing movement, entails that the uT and the uWh feature on C are accompanied by an EPP feature, which triggers under agreement verb and Wh- movement respectively in CG. This could mean that either the features uT, uWh bear another feature; an option generally excluded by the theory, as it would amount to a reintroduction of the concept of feature strength; or that the EPP feature on C may be multiply satisfied, as in multiple subject constructions. This solution, though viable, is inelegant in that there is no way to specify exactly how many times the EPP feature on C could be satisfied. It would also require to independently rule out multiple Wh- movement in languages that have inversion, but are not multiple Wh- movement languages (say, English).
A more viable solution to this problem would be to assume that CP does not consist of a single C head, but an array of functional heads which may bear EPP features capable of inducing movement of heads or maximal elements to the CP. On this assumption, the EPP feature which triggers Wh- movement and the one which triggers subject inversion are carried by two different C projections. This approach can be formally captured in terms of Rizzi’s (1997) theory of a Split-CP. The following section defends a corresponding analysis for the CG data.
Following Rizzi (1997), we are assuming that the CP consists of an array of functional projections (40) which host different elements. Such an analysis accounts for the strict ordering between left periphery elements (see Rizzi 1997 for a more detailed discussion).
The Force-Finiteness system is considered to be the necessary part of the C domain and thus, is assumed to occur in every non-truncated clause except ECM ones. On the contrary, the Topic and Focus system occurs only if it is activated; that is, when an element carries Top or Foc features (Rizzi 1997: 287–8). In this case, topics and foci will be placed in between Force and Finiteness.
Rizzi (1997) argued that Wh- elements occupy Spec, Foc in root interrogatives. This was taken to explain why Wh- question elements and focalized constituents cannot co-occur in main questions. Thus, we could assume that embu is a realization of Foc0. This assumption is nevertheless problematic, as it fails to account for the fact that a DP cannot undergo focus movement and occupy the pre-embu position (14). In fact, focus movement of a DP to a clause initial position is illegitimate in CG.
Consider the example in (41).
The constituent to vazo ‘the vase’ in (41) can receive neither a contrastive nor an information focus interpretation. In fact, the movement of this element to a clause initial position leads to ungrammaticality, an observation also pointed out by GPT, Fotiou (2009) and Agouraki (2010).8
In CG an element is eligible to be interpreted as information focus in its base position. Consider the following example.
The structure in (42) can be an answer to the question Ti espases? ‘What did you break?’. Nevertheless, it would be infelicitous if it was uttered as expressing identificational focus (cf. Kiss 1998). In CG an element may receive an identificational focus interpretation only by being hosted in a cleft structure (cf. Kanikli 2016). Consider the example in (43).
Although a DP cannot undergo movement to a clause fronting position in CG, quantifiers can (cf. Agouraki 2010). Compare the example in (41) with the example in (44).
Note that the only non-Wh- element that we found to occur in the pre-embu position was the quantifying adverb panda ‘always’ (15).
It seems that the elements which may undergo movement to a clause fronting position in non-embu structures, may do so in embu structures as well, qualifying for the pre-embu position. Wh- elements and quantifiers may move to a clause fronting position in non-embu structures, and they may do so in embu structures as well. DPs may not (41), so they may not do so in embu structures either (14). The question which arises is why DPs cannot move to a clause fronting position in CG.
One could assume that DPs cannot move to a clause initial position in CG, because they do not bear a focus feature. As already noted, the Focus projection in the CP is activated only when there is an element bearing a Foc feature (Rizzi 1997). The proposal, however, that DPs do not undergo focus movement in CG is contradicted by the fact that they actually do in clefts. Focalized DPs in clefts display binding effects, which suggest that they are not base-generated in the cleft clause, but move there from their base position in the embedded clause. Consider the example in (45).
The clefted constituent in (45) is a PP which involves the pronoun tis ‘her’. The pronoun is bound by the DP i Maria. This suggests that the clefted constituent originates inside the pu clause, where it can be bound by the subject i Maria. DPs, therefore, undergo focus movement in CG, but they may do so only in clefts.
In view of these facts, we cannot assume that embu is a realization of a Foc head in Rizzi’s (1997) array of C projections. If this was the case, DPs should be able to move to the pre-embu position.
The idea that Wh- elements are quantifiers is certainly not a novel one. Chomsky (1977) and a wealth of subsequent syntactic work have shown that they behave like operators. The semantics of questions based on Karttunen’s (1977) seminal work also analyses Wh- elements as existential quantifiers. Given the fact that only Wh- elements and some quantifiers may move to a clause initial position in CG, we propose that the C head lexicalised by embu bears an uninterpretable quantification feature9 (uQu) and an EPP feature. This allows Wh- elements, which bear quantification (Qu) features as part of their lexical specification (Dobrovie-Sorin 1990), to agree with the C head and move to its specifier to satisfy the EPP.
Under this analysis, DPs cannot undergo raising to a clause fronting position in CG, because they are not lexically defined as quantificational. Nevertheless, they may undergo focus movement in clefts, as the structure where a DP can be structurally defined as a syntactic quantifier is provided (Dobrovie-Sorin 1990).10
Apart from an uQu and an EPP feature, we propose that the C head lexicalised by embu bears an interpretable interrogative feature: Q. The Wh- element bears, apart from a Qu feature, an uninterpretable interrogative feature in Wh- questions, uQ, which renders it active in the derivation. C Agrees with the Wh- element and the Wh- element moves under agreement to its specifier position in order to satisfy its EPP feature. Given Chomsky’s (2000; 2001) activity condition, we predict that in an interrogative structure like (46), in which a quantifier and a Wh- element co-occur, the Wh- element, which bears uQ, will move, under agreement with the relevant C projection.
The above analysis further accommodates the fact that quantifiers stay in situ in some structures, whereas in others they move to clause initial positions in CG. The analysis predicts that in the latter case, the quantifiers bear ufeatures related to discourse related interpretation such as uEmphasis (cf. Agouraki 2010).11
Having accounted for the properties of the CG data with respect to which elements are eligible to move to a clause initial position, and having stated which features we assume to be involved in Wh- movement in (embu) Wh- questions in CG, the following section proceeds to provide a structural analysis for the embu questions.
Consider the example in (47) and the associated structure in (48).
The subject o Jannis in (47) occupies Spec,vP as V-to-I movement satisfied the EPP on I0 (Alexiadou & Anagnostopoulou 1998). Apart from the subject, all the other elements in (47) are in the CP domain. This accounts for the fact that sentential adjuncts may only follow the verb in embu Wh- questions (see section 3.1).
We propose that the verb occupies the lowest C projection in Rizzi’s (1997) array of functional projections: Fin0 (see (40)). We consider that Fin0 bears an uT feature (Pesetsky & Torrego 2001) and an EPP feature. I0, where the verb is hosted, bears an interpretable T feature. I0 Agrees with Fin0 valuing its uT feature and, under agreement, I0 (and concomitantly the verb) moves to Fin0 to satisfy its EPP feature.
As already proposed, embu is a single C head. We argue against an analysis of embu as consisting of two C heads (cf. the analysis Soares 2003 proposed for the European Portuguese é que). Such an analysis is undermined by the fact that nothing may intervene between en and pu (assumed to be contracted to embu). Moreover, the fact that nothing may intervene between the Wh- element and embu suggests that they “doubly-fill” the same projection. We take embu to be base generated in the head position of a Wh- projection and the Wh- element pcon to move to its specifier. As previously argued, the Wh- projection bears an interrogative feature (the Q feature), an uninterpretable quantification feature (the uQu feature) and an EPP feature. The Wh- element pcon bears an uninterpretable interrogative feature (uQ) and an interpretable quantification feature (Qu). Pcon in (47) Agrees with the Wh- projection and under agreement moves to its specifier position to satisfy its EPP feature.
According to the analysis defended above, embu is an overt Wh- head. The difference, therefore, between the two Wh- variants in CG boils down to whether the Wh- head is null or overt respectively. This accounts for the fact that embu and non-embu Wh- structures share the same syntactic properties. As shown, they both involve subject inversion. They interact with other left periphery elements in the same way and the distribution of adverbs is the same in both Wh- structures.
On the assumption that embu is an overt Wh- head, what still remains obscure is why ’mbu occurs obligatorily in inda Wh- arguments. In other words, why a C head must be obligatorily realized in a certain interrogative, whereas in others its overt realization is optional. The next section addresses the asymmetry in the obligatory occurrence of ’mbu and proposes an account for it in the light of the syntactic behavior of inda Wh- arguments in sluices.
As already emphasized, Wh- questions in CG appear to exhibit an asymmetry with respect to the compulsory presence of embu. In particular, while embu is optional in any other Wh- question, ’mbu, the presumed allomorph of embu, seems to be obligatory with Wh- arguments introduced by inda ‘what’. In this section, we argue that the apparent asymmetry actually derives from the reanalysis of inda into indambu ‘what’, which should be analysed as a single Wh- word. Under this analysis, the syntactic behavior of inda Wh- arguments in sluices is accounted for.
When we consider sluicing, we observe that while embu is banned in sluices (cf. (50a) and (53a), ’mbu occurs obligatorily along with inda as a sluicing remnant (cf. (52a) and (54a)).
The above examples are sluices in matrix ((50) and (52)) and embedded clauses ((53)–(54)) (Merchant 2001).13 Following a deletion approach to sluicing, sluices involve Wh- interrogatives where a part of the structure is deleted. In the examples in (50) and (53), embu cannot be pronounced. In other words, it belongs to the part of the structure which must be deleted. On the contrary, ’mbu in the sluiced inda Wh- arguments in (52) and (54) cannot be deleted. Its deletion results in ungrammaticality as the examples in (52b) and (54b) show. Therefore, ’mbu is not part of the structure which undergoes deletion in sluices.
In our analysis, embu is a C head, namely, Wh0. The data in (50) and (53), therefore, suggest that sluices are Wh- interrogatives where only the element occupying the Spec,CP (namely the Spec,WhP) is allowed to be a sluicing remnant. The rest of the structure must be deleted (see the ungrammaticality in (50a) and (53a)). This fact, however, is at odds with deletion approach assumptions regarding sluicing. According to Merchant (2001), sluices are Wh- structures where IP is deleted. The data in (50a) and (53a), though, suggest that apart from IP, the complementiser embu must be deleted.
The above data is not the only problematic data for an approach to sluicing as IP deletion. There is cross-linguistic evidence that elements which move to C (e.g. I-to-C movement), as well as base-generated complementisers are not allowed to be pronounced in sluices (cf. li, the overt interrogative C in Serbo-Croatian, Boškovic 1997, which is also illegitimate as a sluicing remnant, Ochi & Hsin 1999). In order to account for these data Merchant (2001: 62) put forward the Sluicing-COMP generalization, according to which, ‘no non-operator material may appear in COMP’ in sluicing.14 The generalization captures the data in (50) and (53), where only the Wh- element is eligible to occur as a sluicing remnant.
Granted that only the element occupying Spec,WhP may occur as a sluicing remnant in Wh- sluices, the fact that ’mbu can occur along with inda in the Wh- sluices in (52a) and (54a) undermines the idea that ’mbu is an allomorph of embu, and suggests that inda and ’mbu are in fact a single Wh- word: indambu. On this assumption, the obligatory occurrence of inda with ’mbu in Wh- arguments is accounted for. Inda and ’mbu were reanalysed into a single Wh- word, indambu, that is why inda cannot occur without ’mbu neither in Wh- arguments nor in Wh- sluices. Therefore, there is no syntactic asymmetry between CG Wh- questions with respect to the occurrence of embu (Wh0), simply because ’mbu in (i)ndambu (and the other contracted forms nambu, ambu) is not a Wh- head.
Having proposed an analysis for the embu Wh- questions, the following section shows how the analysis extends to French and European Portuguese interrogatives.
Section 2.2 presented the disagreement in the literature as to whether é que may inflect for tense. The distribution of negative markers and sentential adjuncts in é que questions suggests that it may not.
Negation may not adjoin to é que in European Portuguese é que questions (55).
The case is strikingly similar to the CG embu questions where negation cannot adjoin to embu (cf. (56) which is the CG counterpart of (55)).15
Again, the fact that negation may not precede é que in European Portuguese Wh- questions suggests that é que does not involve a copula and concomitantly an IP projection, which a NegP may precede.
Moreover, as is the case with CG embu questions, a sentential adjunct cannot occupy a position in between the assumed copula é and the complementiser que (57).
The ungrammaticality of the example in (57) further supports a mono-clausal analysis of the é que Wh- questions. Granted that there is no copula in the é que structure in (57), there is no IP projection to which a sentential adjunct may adjoin occurring between the assumed copula é and the complementiser que.
Taking into consideration the above data, it seems safe to conclude, on a par with Duarte (2000), that é que in European Portuguese Wh- questions realizes a C head projection. Such an analysis is further supported by Brazilian Portuguese data. Brazilian Portuguese also has these e que Wh- questions. However, in the 20th century, e, which appeared in this invariant form, started to be omitted (Kato 2015), yielding the reduced Wh- clefts which involve only que (cf. Kato & Raposo 1996).
It must be noted that Soares’s (2003) analysis also considers that é que is generated in the CP, although she claims that it can be inflected for tense. Nevertheless, Soares (2003) further argues that é que consists of two C heads: é is considered to be the lexicalized Foc feature of a Wh- head and que an overt Fin head. In order to prove that é and que occupy different projections in the CP, additional evidence is needed. It seems that they cannot be separated by an intervening element, which undermines such an analysis. Moreover, the idea that é is a lexicalized Foc feature in é que questions is also problematic. Wh- elements are taken to move to the specifier of the projection that é occupies. Still, focus movement of a DP to a clause initial position in European Portuguese yields ungrammatical structures (see Barbosa 1995; Costa 1998; Ambar 1999 among others).16
Granted that focus movement of a DP to a clause initial position in European Portuguese generates, similar to CG, ungrammaticality, we could adopt an analysis for the European Portuguese Wh- questions similar to the one proposed for the CG questions. In particular, we could assume that Wh- movement is triggered by the need to satisfy an uninterpretable quantification feature (the uQu feature) and an EPP feature on a C projection: Wh0 (é que is an overt Wh0). Wh- elements, which we consider to bear an interpretable quantification feature (Qu) and an uninterpretable interrogative feature (uQ), Agree with the Wh- projection, which also bears an interpretable interrogative feature (Q), and under agreement move to its specifier position to satisfy its EPP feature.17 As in the case of the CG data, such an analysis explains why Wh- elements and quantifiers may undergo movement to a clause initial position, whereas other elements may not (cf. sections 4.2.1 and 4.2.2).
As far as the disagreement about the syntactic status of est-ce que is concerned, the distribution of negation in est-ce que questions provides support for a mono-clausal analysis of these questions as well. Negation cannot adjoin to the copula assumed to be involved in est-ce que questions (cf. example (58) quoted from Plunkett 2004: 155) (Obenauer 1977; Lefebvre 1982 and others).
The argument is the same as the one put forward for the CG and the European Portuguese data: if est-ce que involved the copula être, it should be able to appear in negative form.
In the light of the above data, it seems that Rooryck’s (1994) approach, according to which est-ce que is a complex C0, is on the right track (cf. also Rowlett 2007). Such an analysis could explain the distribution of negative markers. It could also account for the fact that a lexical element may not intervene between the Wh- element and est-ce que, although as shown by Elsig (2009), this was possible before.
Bearing in mind that, as is the case in CG and European Portuguese, focus movement of a DP to a clause initial position in French generates ungrammaticality18 (Zubizarreta 2001), it seems that the analysis proposed for the CG embu and the European Portuguese é que Wh- questions, could carry over to the est-ce que Wh- questions in French.19 In other words, we could assume that est-ce que in French Wh- questions is an overt Wh0, which bears an uninterpretable quantification feature (the uQu feature), an interpretable interrogative feature (Q) and an EPP feature which triggers under agreement, the movement of a Wh- element (carrying a Qu and an uQ feature) to its specifier.20
Under this analysis, most of the syntactic properties of the est-ce que interrogatives discussed above are explained. An issue remaining unresolved is the obligatory presence of est-ce que in que Wh- subjects. A reanalysis account similar to the one proposed for indambu in CG is undermined by the fact that est-ce que is not obligatory in Wh- objects. This plausibly leads one to think that the change may be in progress in French.21 To ascertain whether qu’est ce que indeed undergoes reanalysis into a Wh- word, one requires much more data,22 and crucially data from different sources. This is beyond the scope of the present paper, thus we leave this as an open issue for further work.
This paper proposes an analysis for CG Wh- questions. It addresses properties of embu Wh- questions which have not been previously addressed and analyses asymmetries that occur in embu interrogatives.
The paper argues that embu questions should be analysed as mono-clausal. We show that such an analysis receives support from the distribution of sentential adjuncts and negation. Adopting a Split-CP analysis, we propose that embu is a Wh- head. We assume, based on the properties of Wh- elements and quantifiers, that Wh- elements carry an interpretable Qu(antification) feature and an uninterpretable interrogative feature (uQ) in Wh- questions. Assuming that Wh- elements are lexically specified as quantificational (bearing an interpretable Qu feature) accommodates the fact that Wh- elements and quantifiers can move to clause initial positions in non-clefting structures in CG, whereas DPs cannot. We argue that the Wh- projection bears an interrogative feature (the Q feature), an uninterpretable quantification feature (the uQu feature) and an EPP feature. Wh- elements Agree with the Wh- projection in interrogatives and under agreement move to its specifier position to satisfy its EPP feature.
With respect to the apparent asymmetries in the optional occurrence of embu between CG Wh- questions, we argue that these can be formally accounted for. We propose that the obligatory occurrence of ’mbu in inda Wh- arguments and sluices derives from the fact that ’mbu, unlike embu, is not a Wh- head. We argue that inda and ’mbu have been reanalysed into a Wh- word, indambu.
Finally, we show that CG embu questions share syntactic properties with é que Wh- questions in European Portuguese and est-ce que Wh- questions in French. The examination of these properties suggests that the analysis advocated for the CG embu questions can extend to these data as well.
1(1f)–(1i) and (4) include dialectal Wh- words (namely inda ‘what’ and indalos ‘how’) which do not occur in Standard Mainland Greek.
2Thanks to João Costa for the European Portuguese data discussed in the remainder of this paper, as well as for his judgments on é que questions.
3An anonymous reviewer notes that this does not hold for structures that involve long extraction of a subject, such as the examples below.
This shows that there may be other factors at play in long distance extraction. We set this property aside for this paper.
4cf. also Agouraki (2010: 553) for a bi-clausal analysis of embu questions.
5Note that extes ‘yesterday’ cannot precede the verb in a Wh- question (cf. (i)).
The fact that a sentential adjunct such as extes ‘yesterday’ may only follow the verb (cf. (33) and (34)), suggests that the verb moves to C in CG Wh- questions triggering subject-verb inversion.
6We are indebted to an anonymous reviewer who points out that the same holds for similar structures in English and French (cf. the examples below).
In yes/no questions, though, the negative markers have a similar distribution as the one in clefts.
These cases offer further support for the idea that the structures in (i) and (ii) do not involve a cleft structure. Clefts express exhaustive identification (Kiss 1998), which appears to be incompatible with the semantics of Wh- elements (see also Kanikli 2016).
7Recall that the distribution of sentential adjuncts in CG Wh- questions suggests that the verb moves to C triggering subject-verb inversion (cf. footnote 5). The fact that object clitics precede the verb in Wh- questions (cf. (1c)) suggests that either the movement of the verb to C is for some reason blocked in the presence of a clitic or that cliticisation precedes movement to C. We will leave a more in-depth analysis of this for future work. Note further that in CG, proclisis occurs in Wh- questions, subjunctive clauses, structures with negation and a small set of preverbal stressed elements (quantifiers (except for universal quantifiers), only-phrases and other) (cf. Agouraki 2010). In all the other structures, the object clitic is enclitic to the verb.
8Recall that an embu structure such as the one in (i) is also ungrammatical.
As already argued, the movement of a DP, such as to vazo ‘the vase’, to the pre-embu position results in ungrammaticality (14) (cf. GPT).
9Cf. Dornisch (2000) who argues that Wh- movement in Polish is driven by a “quant” feature. Cf. also Duarte (2000) who argues that Wh- elements in European Portuguese move to a Quantified Focus projection in interrogatives.
10According to Dobrovie-Sorin (1990), an element may be lexically or structurally defined as a syntactic quantifier. Lexically defined quantifiers are those which inherently bear quantification features (e.g. bare quantifiers). Structurally defined quantifiers are those defined as quantifiers by the position they occupy and not by their inherent features (see also Cinque 1986). Dobrovie-Sorin (1990) argues that Romanian lacks structural quantifiers, which is why, according to her, Romanian lacks clefts. It could be the case, therefore, that clefts in CG provide the structure where a DP can be structurally defined as a syntactic quantifier. Examining how exactly this is achieved falls beyond the scope of this paper (see Dobrovie-Sorin 1990; Cinque 1986 for a detailed discussion).
11Although movement may affect emphatic properties of quantifiers, it does not force, on its own, a specific scope reading. We assume the approach to scope based on selective spell-out, following Tsoulas and Yeo (2017).
12Note that when a Topic projection is activated, a Wh- element cannot precede a topic, whereas a topic may precede a Wh- element in CG. Rizzi (1997) argued that this is due to the Wh- Criterion. As already shown, such an analysis cannot extend to the CG data. An anonymous reviewer suggests that this could be derived from a theoretical principle that rules out structures in which a topic intervenes between the Wh- phrase and the variable it strongly binds (e.g. modifying the ECP to apply only to Op-vbl chains).
13Following Merchant (2001), we argue that the structures in (50) and (52) are main-clause sluices and should be kept separate from fragment Wh- questions. As Merchant (2001: 63–64) shows, the Wh- phrases of fragment questions in echo functions have different pitch contours from the Wh- phrases of matrix sluices, which request information. Moreover, really may precede a matrix sluice, whereas this is not possible in echo fragment questions (Merchant 2001: 64). Finally, Wh- phrase-preposition inversion occurs in matrix and embedded sluices, but not in echo-Wh- fragments (Merchant 2001: 65).
14See also Kanikli (2011b) for an analysis of sluicing drawing on Phase Theory.
15Notice that the only difference between example (55) and example (56) is that the CG embu question shows subject-verb inversion, whereas the European Portuguese é que question does not. Notice also that the European Portuguese root Wh- question in (20a) which does not involve é que, shows subject-verb inversion. Soares (2003) argues that é que questions also display subject-verb inversion. However, unlike root non-é que Wh- questions, it is optional. Following Costa (1998), she assumes that when é que Wh- questions show subject-verb inversion, the verb does not move to C, as in the case of root non-é que questions, but to I0, and the subject stays in situ. She argues that such an analysis is supported by the distribution of sentential adjuncts, which cannot precede the verb in root non-é que Wh- questions, but they may do so in é que Wh- questions which show subject-verb inversion (see Soares 2003 for a more detailed discussion).
16An anonymous reviewer notes that European Portuguese allows Contrastive Focus Fronting (CFF), as argued by Costa & Martins (2011). Nevertheless, as Costa & Martins (2011: 218) note “there is no consensus regarding its availability in European Portuguese”. They argue that this is due to variation across speakers. In particular, they claim that in European Portuguese, there is Grammar A, which is less restrictive with respect to which elements may undergo CFF, and Grammar B, which allows only for deictic expressions and PPs and AdvPs that include deictics to undergo CFF. It must be noted that the Grammar A examples of CFF constituents which Costa & Martins (2011) give include only quantifiers, indefinite DPs, PPs, deictic proforms and a DP including the adjective grande ‘big’.
17Cf. Duarte (2000) who argues that Wh- elements in European Portuguese move to a Quantified Focus projection in interrogatives.
18An anonymous reviewer notes that, according to Authier & Haegeman (2018), French allows Mirative Focus Fronting (MFF). Authier & Haegeman (2018: 6) claim that, although “the prevalent view in the literature is that French NPs/DPs cannot be fronted in the absence of clitic resumption”, there is a special type of fronting that may occur in French. Nevertheless, they argue that it should not be considered as a type of Contrastive Focus Fronting, which is not legitimate in French. MFF, which is restricted to main clauses, expresses new and unexpected information and has a similar information structure with Wh- exclamatives. It must be noted that MFF appears to be restricted to a small set of elements, as the MFF examples, which Authier & Haegeman (2018) give, include fronted quantifiers (mostly proportional quantifiers), even-phrases and indefinite DPs.
19As pointed out by an anonymous reviewer, a clefted constituent may precede é que in European Portuguese, whereas this is not the case in CG and French, where the clefted constituent occurs in between the copula (en in CG and est in French) and the complementiser (pu in CG and que in French). We argue that é que clefts involve different features from the ones involved in é que Wh- questions, which we do not assume to be derived from a cleft structure. Therefore, a different structural analysis should be pursued for é que clefts.
The reviewer also notes that é que may be used as an explicative discourse marker (cf. example (i)), whereas this does not hold for est-ce que and embu.
We argue that, although, é que in Wh- questions and the explicative discourse marker in (i) have the same form, they have different syntax and semantics. Therefore, they should be analysed differently.
20It must be noted that a significant difference between the est-ce que, the é que and the embu question formation strategy is that é que cannot occur in Yes/No questions, est-ce que can occur in a clause-initial position in Yes/No questions (cf. (i)), whereas embu can occur in a Yes/No question only when it is preceded by another element (cf. (ii) and (iii)).
Another analysis needs to be pursued for est-ce que Yes/No questions in French, as est-ce que in these questions must bear different features.
21An anonymous reviewer points out that in Quebec French, the elements kossé and quesse, which are contracted forms of qu’est ce que, are used in interrogatives. This provides support for a reanalysis hypothesis of qu’est ce que at least in Quebec French.
22An important argument for proposing a reanalysis account for the CG indambu was the fact that it qualifies as a sluicing remnant. Qu’est ce que, though, does not qualify as a sluicing remnant.
1.SG = first person singular morphology, 2.SG = second person singular morphology, 3.SG = third person singular morphology, 3.PL = third person plural morphology, ACC = accusative, GEN = genitive, NOM = nominative, F = feminine, M = masculine, N = neuter, CL = clitic, IMPERF = imperfective, REFL = reflexive
We are grateful to Glossa’s three anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions. We also wish to thank the audiences at the Recent Issues in the Syntax of Questions workshop and the 19th International Symposium on Theoretical and Applied Linguistics. Thanks also to João Costa for discussion of the Portuguese data and to Norman Yeo for discussing earlier drafts with us as well as for technical help with the images.
Any remaining errors are ours.
The authors have no competing interests to declare.
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