Synopses & Reviews
An investigation of the syntax and semantics of wh-questions through the lens of intervention effects, offering a new proposal on overt and covert wh-movement.
In this book, Hadas Kotek investigates the syntax and semantics of wh-questions, offering a new solution to a central question in the study of interrogatives: given that overt wh-movement is cross-linguistically common, is syntactic movement a prerequisite for the interpretation of wh-phrases? Some linguists argue that all wh-phrases undergo movement to interrogative C, even if covertly; others propose mechanisms of in-situ interpretation that do not require any movement. Kotek moves beyond these positions to argue that wh-in-situ does move covertly, but not necessarily to C. Instead, she contends, wh-in-situ undergoes a short movement step akin to covert scrambling. This makes the LF behavior of English parallel to the overt behavior of German.
Kotek presents a series of self-paced reading experiments, alongside judgment data from German, to substantiate the idea of covert scrambling. She introduces new diagnostics for the underlying structure of questions, using as a principal tool the distribution of intervention effects. This system allows her to offer the first unified account for a range of phenomena of interrogative syntax-semantics as pied-piping, superiority effects, the cross-linguistically varied syntax of questions, and intervention effects.
Kotek develops a theory of interrogative syntax-semantics; studies the phenomena of intervention effects in wh-questions, proposing that the nature of intervention is crucially tied to the availability of wh-movement in a question; and shows that covert wh-movement should be modeled as a short scrambling operation rather than an unbounded, successive-cyclic, and potentially long-distance movement operation.