There are a number of intriguing issues surrounding wh-questions that have drawn considerable attention in the literature. Among the most commonly observed is the fact that in certain languages, wh-phrases move overtly from their base-generated positions to a clause-peripheral position, while in other languages the wh-phrases remain in-situ and are not overtly moved. A well known and contentious issue, to which this paper contributes with novel data from Buli, is the status of the in-situ wh-phrase. For instance, do in-situ phrases undergo covert movement? If so how is this movement similar or different from overt movement? I argue that the language distinguishes two kinds of wh-in-situ phrases: one undergoes covert movement, a movement I claim is comparable in many ways to overt wh-movement, while the other one doesn’t. The key to this observation, I further argue, is the presence of an overt Q-particle in the language. Whenever the Q-particle is absent, the signs of movement disappear. This provides a very transparent set of arguments in favor of the mixed view that sometimes you have movement of wh-in-situ and other other times you don't.
Many languages have wh-in-situ. The right analysis of the behavior of the wh-phrases in situ is, however, controversial. Different analyses have been suggested: one possibility is that the wh-in-situ phrase moves covertly (Huang 1982a; b; Nishigauchi 1990; Aoun et al. 1993; Richards 1997; Nissenbaum 2000). Another possibility is that it doesn’t move covertly (Tsai 1994; Watanabe 2001), but some special semantic treatments yield an interpretation similar to when it moved. Sometimes it has been suggested (Pesetsky 2000; Beck 2006; Cable 2007; 2010; Kotek 2014) that both movement and special semantic treatments are available for wh-in-situ. The debate, when focused on languages like English, is muddied by various complications where some but not all wh-phrases show signs of movement including island effects. I am going to argue that wh-in-situ in Bùlì provides a very transparent set of arguments in favor of the mixed view that sometimes you have movement and other other times you do not.
In this paper, I examine wh-questions in Bùlì, a Mabia (Gur) language spoken in Ghana, in which the wh-phrase stays in-situ.1 In the example in (1), the wh-word, bwā ‘what’ stays in-situ and is preceded by the particle ká in (1a) while in (1b) it is not preceded by ká. Following earlier analysis of questions (Hagstrom 1998; 2004; Cable 2007; 2010), I will argue that the ká is an instance of overt Q.
I argue that when the wh-in-situ has a Q-morpheme as in (1a), it undergoes covert movement and when it doesn’t have a Q-morpheme as in (1b), there is no movement. Thus Bùlì has two ways of interpreting wh-in-situ phrases. This is reminiscent of wh-in situ in Vietnamese (Bruening & Tran 2006) where it has been argued that wh-in situ phrases can be interpreted either by covert movement or by unselective binding without movement.2 Island and binding effects correlate perfectly with this, thus providing strong arguments for both ways of treating of wh-in-situ. Also, the properties I am attributing to covert movement in the language completely match the properties that overt movement has cross linguistically.
The paper is structured as follows: First, in section 2, I provide some background on basic clause structure and the nature of wh-questions of Bùlì. In section 3, I provide a brief background to the approach I adopt in this paper, and present the diagnostics that show that ká is Q in the language in the sense of Hagstrom (1998; 2004) and Cable (2007; 2010). In section 4, I present the diagnostics that show that the ká-phrase undergoes covert movement and exhibits the same properties as overt movement. Finally in section 5, I provide a short conclusion.
Bùlì is a strict SVO language:
The in-situ strategy for wh-questions is illustrated in (3). Notice three things in particular: first, the question words appear in-situ i.e. in their non-peripheral canonical positions. Second, there is final vowel lengthening to indicate the clause is a question. This final vowel lengthening is also present in yes/no questions in the language. Finally, in single in-situ questions, the particle ka obligatorily precedes the question word or question containing phrase (multiple wh-questions and the distribution of ka will be discussed later on in section 4). I gloss this particle as ‘Q’ for reasons discussed below.
Besides permitting wh in-situ, Bùlì also permits constructions like (4) in which the ká-phrase is found in clause-initial positions. In clause-initial position, ká is optional. In these constructions, however, local subject wh-phrases are obligatorily followed by the particle ālì (4a) and non subjects are obligatorily followed by ātì. See (Ferreira & Ko 2003; Hiraiwa 2003; 2005) for more on these morphemes.
The scope of an in-situ wh-phrase is not clause bound, as (5) shows.
In embedded questions, the wh-phrase remains in-situ (6). The complementizer āsī is used in embedded questions. Note that this is different from the complementizer āyīn, used in declarative sentences as in (5) above.
In the following sections, I will examine these patterns in more detail. To lay the foundation for the main point of the paper, I will argue in the following sections that ká is the Bùlì counterpart of the Q-morpheme identified in languages such as Sinhala and Japanese (Hagstrom 1998; 2004; Kishimoto 2005), and Tlingit (Cable 2007; 2010). I will show that the in-situ wh-phrase headed by ká undergoes covert movement which, I argue, is comparable in many ways to overt movement.
Cable (2007; 2010) argued that wh-phrases are embedded inside a functional layer which, following previous authors (Hagstrom 1998; Kishimoto 2005), he referred to as Q(uestion)-particle.3 Cable argued that Q, rather than wh, is the actual target of so-called wh-movement. This particle has gone unnoticed in many languages because it is phonologically covert. He argues that the fronting of wh-phrases in “wh-fronting” languages is not due to a property of the wh-word itself, as has been traditionally assumed, but rather due to the Q-particle. When this Q-particle, which heads its own projection (QP), is fronted, it has the secondary effect of fronting the wh-word. Couched in the framework of “probes” and “goals” as developed within the Minimalist Program (Chomsky 1995), the interrogative C head bears an uninterpretable instance of the interpretable Q-feature borne by Q. The interrogative C finds and Agrees with the interpretable Q, valuing its uninterpretable Q-feature. This Agreement relation then triggers movement of the goal, the QP, into the projection of C. Because the QP necessarily contains the wh-word, it follows that movement of the QP into the projection of C implies movement of the wh-word into the projection of C. Let us see how this proposal works for Tlingit below. In this language, the wh-word is always sentence initial and is always followed by the Q-particle sá, which either directly follows the wh-word or wh-containnig phrase.
The derivation for (7a) is given in (7b)–(7c), where (7b) is the base structure from which the final structure, (7c), is derived. As shown in (7b) above, the Q-particle sá heads its own projection, labeled “QP” and takes the wh-word as its complement. The interrogative C head bears an uninterpretable instance of the interpretable Q-feature borne by sá. The interrogative C probes for an interpretable instance of this Q-feature on sá. It agrees with the particle, then triggers movement of the goal, the QP headed by sá, into the projection of C. Because the wh-word is contained within the QP, its movement into the CP necessarily implies the movement of the wh-word. In addition to the syntax, the Q-particle has certain distributional properties including: it attaches to nominals, cannot occur inside islands and may not separate a DP from a functional head that selects it. This analysis of the Tlingit Q-particle will serve as a model for our analysis of ká in Bùlì.
In this section, the distribution and properties of Bùlì ká are compared with the Q-particles of other languages including sá in Tlingit (Cable 2007; 2010), da in Sinhala, and ka in Japanese (Hagstrom 2004; Kishimoto 2005) leading to the conclusion that ká is Q in Bùlì. As will be illustrated below, ká only attaches to nominals, and may not separate a DP from a functional head that selects it. The relevance of this particle to the discussion in this paper is seen in section 4 where I argue that the ká headed phrase undergoes covert movement.
Before considering the distribution of ká, a quick note on the claim that it attaches to nominals. This immediately raises a question of what the categories of wh-phrases are in the language, especially “where”, “why”, and “when”. Their composition suggests they are all nominals. As shown in (8), there are nominals corresponding to “direction”, “body”, and “day” in the meaning equivalent of bɛ̄-gēŋ ‘where’, bwān-ɲíŋ ‘why’ and dā-dīnā ‘when’ respectively.4 As will be shown later in the discussion, nominal constructions like “relative” clauses, and “because” clauses permit ká to appear at their edge while non-nominal clauses including “if-clauses” and “without” clauses do not.
Returning to the distribution of ká, like Q in Tlingit and Sinhala, it is obligatory in a wh-question, as seen in (8).
Secondly, the particle ká must c-command a wh-phrase. It can be directly prefixed to the wh-word, as the above examples show, or it can be attached to a larger wh-containing phrase, as the (a) examples in (9)–(11) show. If the Q doesn’t precede the wh-phrase, the constructions are ill-formed.
One important property of Q-particles observed in many languages is that, although a wh-phrase is allowed inside a complex-DP, the Q-particle must appear at the edge of the island (Hagstrom 1998; Kishimoto 2005; Cable 2007; 2010). This same property can be observed for Bùlì. Ká cannot appear inside but must appear at the edge of the complex DP.
I argue, based on the distributional similarities of ká to the Q-particles da in Sinhala, ka in Japanese and sá in Tlingit, that ká is Q in Bùlì, and, as such, it should be given an analysis parallel to the Q-particles in these languages.
Despite these similarities, there are some points of divergence among the languages in terms of distribution and function of their Q-particles. The Q in Bùlì only attaches to nominals, and, unlike its counterpart in Tlingit, it does not also appear on wh-words to mark indefinites. It can also be used in declarative sentences to mark focus. The selectional requirement of Q thus independently rules out (12b), where Q is attached to the relative clause, and explains why the Q-particle cannot appear at the left-edge of the matrix clause, as in (13b), or subordinate clause, as in (13c)–(13d), unlike in Tlingit where Q can mark subordinate clauses.
Another point of divergence is that, in Bùlì, there can be at most one instance of ká per question, even in multiple wh-questions, (14), (again unlike Tlingit, which can have multiple Q-particles in multiple wh-questions).
Cable (2007; 2010) draws a distinction between Q-projection languages (15) and Q-adjoining languages (16). Only in a Q-projection language will movement triggered by a Q probe yield phrasal movement of the type usually called wh-movement.
The Q-particle is barred from appearing in certain environments in Q-projection languages: (i) between a wh-possessor and the possessed NP, (ii) between a wh-determiner and its NP complement or (iii) between a pre or postposition and its complement. To the extent that these constructions are replicable in Bùlì, we should observe similar restrictions on the distribution of ká if the language is a Q-projecting language. As will be shown below, similar restrictions are observed for the distribution of ká.
In possessive constructions, ká cannot appear between a possessor NP and a possessed wh-phrase (17).
It cannot appear between a wh-determiner and its NP complement (18).
It cannot also appear between a preposition and its complement (19b), nor can it precede the preposition (19c). Example (19c) contrasts with the distribution of Q in Tlingit, which allows Q to take a preposition as its complement.
The data from (17)–(19) show that ká is restricted from appearing in the structural positions that the Q in Q-projecting languages are also banned from occurring. This is thus evidence that the language is a Q-projection language.
As the discussion shows, ká must precede the wh-phrase, it cannot occur inside an island, and it may not separate a DP from a functional head that selects it. We also saw that ká heads its own projection i.e it can either directly take a wh-phrase or a wh-containing phrase as its complement (Q-projection language). Since ká has the same range of restrictions as Q, I conclude that ká is Q. This serves as the background for next section where I argue that ká diagnoses covert movement.
Do in-situ phrases undergo covert wh-movement? If so, how is this movement different from overt wh-movement? I argue that there are two kinds of wh-in situ in the language: the first kind undergoes covert movement while the second kind does not. Covert movement occurs in situations where the in-situ phrase is preceded by the the question particle ká; the wh-in situ does not undergo movement when the Q-particle is missing. The evidence for the split comes from islands, scope, binding theory and the absence of intervention effects. For instances where movement is observed, I argue that there are no differences between covert and overt phrasal wh-movement.
In this section, we look at the wh-in situ immediately preceded by ká which I argue undergoes covert movement. Does this phrase show the properties that are diagnostics of movement? I present evidence from islands, binding theory, the absence of intervention effects, and, arguably, scope that answers this question in the affirmative. I show that this covert movement is comparable in many ways to the overt movement of languages like English.
Studies over the years have converged on several properties for diagnosing whether a syntactic operation involves movement. A stable diagnostic for movement is island-sensitivity. If the ká-phrase involves any kind of movement, then we expect the ká-phrase to show island sensitivity. This expectation is borne out, as shown earlier in (12), repeated as (20), and (21). Although wh-phrases are allowed inside an island, attaching the particle ká to the wh-phrase inside the island renders the construction ungrammatical (20a). It must appear at the edge of the island (20b).
When a wh-phrase is coordinated with another element, ká must precede the entire conjunction phrase, (21b). Placing it immediately before the wh-phrase in the second conjunct, (21a), results in ungrammaticality. This is consistent with earlier studies which show that covert movement obeys the CSC (Ruys 1992).
An adjunct “because” clause behaves like a nominal: the because has the final particle la: a determiner-like particle found with relative clauses and ɲīŋ ‘body’ which is the same form we find with the wh-word “why” in the language. All these factors suggest that it is nominal. As a result ká cannot appear inside, (22b), but may appear at its edge, (22c).
Also, ká cannot appear inside an “If-clause”, (23), or “Without-clause”, (24). It cannot appear at the edge of these clauses because of the subcategorization restriction that it appears with nominals.
Assuming that complex DP phrases, coordinate structures, conditionals and adjunct clauses are islands for movement, these observations support the claim that there is covert movement involved in these constructions.
A second piece of evidence for covert movement comes from Binding Theory. Nissenbaum (2000) shows that covert wh-movement feeds condition A of the binding theory. Consider the data in (25) from Nissenbaum (2000). The covert phrasal movement of the in-situ wh-phrase in (25a) licenses the anaphor. In contrast, since there is no such movement in (25b), the anaphor is not licensed resulting in the ungrammaticality of the sentence.
|(25)||English (Nissenbaum 2000: 126)|
|a.||Whoi thinks Mary was looking at which picture of himselfi?|
|b.||*Whoi thinks Mary was looking at a picture of himselfi.|
In-situ wh-phrases in Bùlì can feed condition A of the binding theory. Consider the examples in (26). The anaphor needs an antecedent within the same clause in order to be licensed, (26a)–(26b). When the antecedent fails to c-command the anaphor, the result is ungrammatical, (26c).
The examples in (27) replicates the English paradigm from Nissenbaum given in (25), though the judgments in Bùlì are perhaps stronger. The ungrammaticality of (27b) is expected because the antecedent of the anaphor is found in the matrix clause while the anaphor is in the embedded clause. The grammaticality of (27a) is surprising since the antecedent and the anaphor are in different clauses. The contrast between (27a) and (27b) is expected if covert movement is involved—and importantly successive cyclicity in (27a). The covert movement of the ká-phrase into the matrix verb will license the anaphor. The example in (27b) is ruled out because there is no such movement. It will later be shown that we lose the Nissenbaum effects in instances where the in-situ wh-phrase does not move covertly.
Another piece of evidence for the covert movement of the ká-phrase comes from intervention effects. The absence of intervention effects can also diagnose covert movement of the ká-phrase. It has been argued that languages make use of two methods of interpreting wh-in-situ phrases: covert movement (Chomsky 1976; Huang 1982b; Pesetsky 1987; Aoun et al. 1993; Pesetsky 2000) and a non-movement strategy such as Focus-Alternatives computation (Hamblin 1973; Rooth 1985; 1992; Beck 2006; Cable 2007; 2010; Kotek 2014). Beck (2006) observes that the Focus-Alternative strategy of interpreting a wh-in-situ phrase is subject to intervention effects. If a focus operator like only occurs between an in-situ wh-phrase and the C that interprets it at LF, it will cause the derivation to crash (28a). This is because the focus operator makes use of both the ordinary and focus semantic value of its sister. Since the wh-phrase lacks an ordinary value, the structure is uninterpretable, and hence ungrammatical. Pesetsky (2000) explains these facts by linking the presence of intervention effects to the absence of covert movement. Covert movement is immune from intervention because the wh-phrase will move covertly above the intervener (28b) at LF, and thus will be able to obviate intervention effects.
|(28)||Structure of intervention|
|a.||Focus-Alternatives computations: *[C…intervener […wh…]]|
|b.||Covert movement: [C…intervener […wh…]]|
Consider an instantiation of this schema from English. Pesetsky (2000) observes in English multiple wh-constructions that Superiority obeying questions are not subject to intervention while Superiority violating questions are subject to intervention. Superiority-obeying and superiority-violating constructions are shown in (29) and (30) respectively.
|(29)||a.||Who bought what?|
|b.||*What did who buy?|
|(30)||a.||Which person bought which book?|
|b.||Which book did which person buy?|
He argues that superiority obeying in-situ wh-phrases in English undergo LF wh-movement while in superiority violating structures, the in-situ phrase is interpreted via feature movement. In effect these constructions have different LF representations as shown in (31). In (31a) all the wh-phrases move to the spec C at LF. On the contrary, in (31b) only wh2‘which person’ moves to the spec of C at LF. Wh1 remains in-situ and is computed via feature movement.
|(31)||a.||[who1 what2 [ C [TP t1 buy t2 ] ] ] LF: Superiority-Obeying|
|b.||[which book 2 [ C [TP which person1 buy t2 ] ] ] LF: Superiority-Violating|
Pesetsky (2000) proposes that when an in-situ wh-phrase such as wh1 in (31b) does not undergo covert movement, it is interpreted via Focus-Alternative computations and that it is this strategy that is subject to intervention. Thus, in the superiority obeying constructions, (32) and (33a), all the wh-phrases move covertly. As a result, adding an intervener will not affect the interpretability of the sentences. On the other hand, because which girl remains in-situ in (33b) and is interpreted via focus alternative computation, adding an intervener above it will result in an uninterpretable structure, and hence the ungrammaticality of the sentence.
|(32)||a.||Who did only John introduce to whom?|
|b.||Which children didn’t buy which book?|
|(33)||a.||Which girl did only Mary introduce to which boy?|
|b.||*Which boy did only Mary introduce which girl to?|
Movement, whether overt or covert, which takes the wh-phrase outside the c-command domain of an intervener solves the problem of intervention. As shown in (32) and (33) for English, covert movement of the phrase prevents intervention. In many other languages including Korean, overt movement obviates intervention. Consider the following examples from Korean. The sentence in (34a) is ungrammatical because the intervener only c-commands the wh-phrase. Contrast this sentence with (34b) where the intervener is absent and (34c) where the wh-phrase moved past the intervener.
Adopting the insights of these accounts, we can diagnose covert phrasal movement in Bùlì: if the ká-phrase can appear below these interveners without resulting in ungrammaticality, then we conclude that covert phrasal movement has taken place. If, on the other hand, the relation between the ká-phrase and C is interrupted, then we diagnose Focus-Alternative computation for the wh-in-situ.
The presence of ká and covert-phrasal movement of the ká-phrase make a prediction concerning intervention effects: placing an intervener between the wh-word and the Q-particle ká should trigger intervention. We can test this prediction with a Complex DP island where it is possible to fit interveners between ká and the wh-phrase. While it is possible to have an intervener above the island, (35a), it is not possible to have an intervener within the island, (35b–35d).
The acceptability of (35a) makes two relevant points: first the relation between ká and the wh-word is not interrupted because the intervener kàn is above both the particle and the wh-phrase; second, the ká-phrase, in this instance ká and its complement (the island) will covertly move across the intervener, thus obviating intervention effects. The ungrammaticality of (35c)–(35d) is predicted because the relation between the wh-phrase and its licenser is interrupted by an intervener. An intervener within an island where it does not c-command the in-situ wh-phrase is grammatical, (35e), however.
In-situ wh-phrases immediately preceded by ká are not subject to intervention effects: wh-phrases are permitted under the c-command domain of focus-related elements like only, also and negation as shown in (36). Overt movement over these elements is fine as expected, (37).
We conclude from (36) that the ká-phrase has covertly moved above the intervener, thus obviating intervention effects. To illustrate, a construction like (36a) will have as an LF (38). Crucially, the wh-phrase is above the intervener, thus obviating intervention.
|(38)||[CP [ká bwā]1 [C [TP John mɛ̄ dìg t1 ] ] ] LF: showing covert movement|
Finally, the reader may be wondering whether wh-in situ in these constructions has wide scope with respect to other elements. Example (39) shows that this in indeed possible if scope is determined by movement. In the sentence below, the in-situ wh-phrase can take wide scope over the quantifier. Although several accounts of wide scope (such as those involving focus alternative computation) derive these scope properties without movement, a combination of factors including island sensitivity and the absence of intervention effects for the ká-phrase strongly suggests movement. The wide scope reading of the wh-phrase is possible if the wh-phrase moves above the universal quantifier (Aoun & Li 1993). Since there is no indication of overt movement in (39), we can reason this has taken place covertly.
As demonstrated, the ká headed phrase, though in-situ, behaves like overtly moved phrases in being sensitive to the same islands and in being able to obviate intervention effects, among others. The conclusion drawn from this is that the ká headed phrase undergoes covert movement, which is comparable to the overt movement we observe for overt movement languages like English and Bùlì, as we will see below in section 4.3.
In the preceding section, we looked at the first kind of wh-in-situ phrase, the one preceded by ká, and I argued that the ká-phrase undergoes covert movement. In this section, we take a look at the second kind of wh-in-situ, the one without ká. At this point, there are two possibilities that might, in theory, be attested with the ká-less in situ phrase: either (a) they pattern like in situ wh-phrases with ká and show signs of undergoing covert movement, or (b) they do not show such signs, and therefore could be concluded not to undergo covert movement. The evidence leads to the conclusion that (b) is correct.
Ká-less wh-phrases occur in multiple questions. In multiple wh-questions, ká appears to the left of the highest wh-containing phrase, (40).
Having multiple ká, (41a), or placing it on the lowest wh-phrase, (41b), results in ungrammaticality. An open question for the current account is why there is one ká which appears on the highest wh-phrase.5
An initial point that suggests that a ká-less in situ wh-phrase doesn’t undergo covert movement is that it can occur inside an island, (42). As has been noted above, the in-situ phrase with ká is island sensitive since movement out of islands is generally barred. The fact that the ká-less phrase is allowed inside an island could be taken as evidence that it doesn’t undergo covert movement.
Another suggestive piece of evidence tha ká-less phrase does not undergo movement comes from binding theory. Relying on a previous observation that covert movement can feed condition A of the binding theory, we noted that the in-situ phrase with ká, can feed condition A of the binding theory. A related question is: can the wh-phrase without ká feed condition A of the binding theory? It should be able to feed the binding theory if it involves movement just like its counterpart with ká.
Multiple questions are possible in embedded clauses, (43). In (43b), there is only one wh-phrase ká wà-dēki foto kuna ‘which picture of herself’ in the embedded clause. Because this wh-phrase is preceded by the Q-particle ká, it moves covertly into the matrix clause, thereby licensing the anaphor. Example (43c), on the other hand, involves a multiple question. In this construction, the Q-particle ká is on the wh-phrase ká núr bānā ‘which people’, and it is that phrase which moves covertly. The anaphor in the second wh-containing phrase is not licensed in this context. We can explain this by arguing that the inability of an antecedent in a matrix clause to license an anaphor in an embedded wh-phrase without ká is because it does not involve movement, hence the ungrammaticality of the sentence.
Another argument for the non-movement of the ká-less wh-phrase comes from intervention. We saw that placing an intervener above a wh-phrase preceded by ká doesn’t trigger intervention. In multiple wh-contexts where the second wh-phrase is not preceded by ká and doesn’t move, we might predict intervention effects. This is indeed the case, as shown in (44) below.
Although the ká-phrase can move across the intervener in (44a), the second wh-phrase will not, resulting in an intervention effect. In example (44b) where negation is below Wh1 and above Wh2, the result is ungrammatical, as an instance of an intervention effects. Example (44c) shows that if all the wh-phrases are above the intervener we do not get intervention effects. Note that this extends to other interveners including “only” and “also”.
We have seen in this section that there are basically two kinds of wh-in-situ in the language: the one preceded by ká and the one without a ká. As argued in the previous section, drawing from different kinds of evidence, the in-situ wh-phrase preceded by ká is the only one that undergoes covert movement. The ká-less one, on the other hand, does not undergo any kind of movement. This is reminiscent of wh-in situ in Vietnamese (Bruening & Tran 2006) where it has been argued that wh-in situ phrases can be interpreted either by covert movement or by unselective binding without movement. In Vietnamese, however, the covert movement strategy occurs in matrix questions when there is no question particle, while unselective binding (lack of movement) is employed when there is a question particle and in embedded questions generally.
In this section, we turn to constructions like (45), repeated from (4), where the ká-phrase is found at the left-periphery of the clause. I show that, as far as wh-movement is concerned, Bùlì is a language where both overt and covert movement behave nearly identically except for the phonology—with both interacting with Islands, intervention effects, and binding theory in perfectly identical ways, once extraneous factors like linear precedence are taken into account.
In these constructions, as noted earlier, the wh-phrase is obligatorily followed by ātì if the wh-phrase is a non subject, (45a)–(45b), and ālì if it is a local subject.
I follow Ferreira & Ko (2003) and Hiraiwa (2003; 2005) in assuming that these constructions involve overt movement of the goal to the Spec of the probe, ātì, thus making overt movement optional in the language. The fact that the gap can be found several clauses away and is subject to islands is evidence that this construction involves movement.
The gap can be found several clauses away. The wh-phrases originate from within the embedded clauses in (46).
Like the in situ construction discussed above, the left-peripheral Q behaves like movement, sensitive to familiar islands as seen in (47)–(51).
Another piece of evidence for overt movement comes from binding theory and reconstruction. Wh-movement does not obviate binding relations from the position from which movement took place. Consider the following examples in English. An R-expression cannot co-refer with a c-commanding pronoun, (52a), so John in the object DP cannot co-refer with the subject pronoun. When we move the object containing the R-expression John to a position where the subject no longer c-commands it, it still does not make the construction better, (52b). This follows from the observation that wh-movement does not obviate binding possibilities (in this case principle C violations). This observation is easily explained under the copy theory of movement (Chomsky 1995) where a moved element leaves behind a copy of itself, rather than a trace.
|(52)||a.||*Who thinks He1 likes [which picture of John1]?|
|b.||*Who wonders [Which picture of John1] he likes?|
Reconstruction effects are observed for the wh-phrase in the left periphery. As expected, in (53b), moving the wh-phrase to the left does not bleed the satisfaction of principle A.
It is important to note, however, that the antecedent for the anaphor must be a pronoun. The construction becomes bad if the subject is replaced by an R-expression, (54b).
A constraint like (55) seems to be responsible for the impossibility of demonstrating reconstruction effects with R-expressions.
|(55)||An R-expression may not be linearly preceded by a nominal co-indexed with it.|
Other data that support (55) independent of reconstruction are given below. In all the ungrammatical cases below, an R-expression follows a co-indexed pronoun or a reflexive. Even though the pronouns and anaphors do not c-command the R-expressions in (56), the sentence is still judged to be ungrammatical.6
The paper investigated the syntax of wh-in-situ through the lens of Bùlì. The data presented here show that the language has a Q-particle whose distributional properties are in many ways comparable to Q-particles previously identified for Tlingit (Cable 2007; 2010), Sinhala and Japanese (Hagstrom 2004; Kishimoto 2005). It was argued that the Q-particle project, thus making the language a Q-projecting language where the Q-particle takes a complement.
The data also show that wh-in-situ, even within the same language, can be interpreted either via covert movement or via special semantic treatments: focus-alternative computations or unselective binding. Covert movement is, strikingly, highly similar to overt movement. If this conclusion is right, then the discussion here provides further evidence for the mixed view that both movement and special semantic treatments are available for wh-in-situ (Pesetsky 2000; Beck 2006; Bruening & Tran 2006; Cable 2007; 2010; Kotek 2014).
1Unless otherwise indicated, the data for this paper come from a combination of my own intuitions, and consultation with other native speakers. The working language for consultation with other speakers was in both Bùlì and English.
2I would like to thank an anonymous reviewer for drawing my attention to this paper.
3This label is somewhat misleading because the particle is not restricted to only questions.
4bɛ̄-gēŋ is sometimes shortened as bɛ̄. I will therefore use the short form in the rest of the paper.
5The same observation is made for D-linked questions: ká must always appear on the highest wh-containing phrase.
6What still remains as a puzzle and needs explanation under this sketch of an account is the contrast in (i)–(ii) where there also seem to be no reconstruction effects for principle C. Perhaps what the data is teaching us is that reconstruction is not obligatory for binding principle C. A solution to this might lie in detailed investigations of reflexives and pronouns generally in the language where precedence happens to play a critical role in the licensing of anaphors as noted. I therefore leave this open for future work.
ACC = accusative, C = complementizer, CONJ = conjunction, DEF = definite, DEM = demonstrative, FUT = future, IMPF = imperfective, NEG = negation, P = (pre/post)-position, PL = plural, PRT = particle, Q = question, REL.PRO = relative pronoun, SG = singular, TOP = topic
I would like to thank three anonymous reviewers for their rigorous and useful comments and suggestions. I wish to thank E.O. Enoch Aboh, George Akanlig-Pare, Isa Kerem Bayirli, Kenyon Branan, Seth Cable, Danny Fox, Aron Hirsch, Sabine Iatridou, Claire Halpert, Ken Hiraiwa, Michael Kenstowicz, Shigeru Miyagawa, David Pesetsky, Norvin Richards, Roger Schwarzschild, Benjamin Storme, Michelle Yuan, the audience of MIT-Syntax Square, GLOW40, and Syntax Brown Bag-NYU, April 14, 2017 for helpful comments and questions. I also wish to thank Johan Rooryck and his editorial team for their assistance.
The author has no competing interests to declare.
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