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Open Access Wh-Inquiries into Modern Greek and Their Theoretical Import(ance)

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Wh-Inquiries into Modern Greek and Their Theoretical Import(ance)

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Within the framework of Generative Grammar, a standard (hypo)thesis has been that a (broad) wh-parameter may distinguish between two types of languages: those that front wh-elements (e.g., English) and those that realize them in situ (e.g., Chinese). Wh-fronting languages may also attest in situ arrangements, and a tacit (hypo)thesis, tied to the one above, is that in situ configurations translate to echo questions, while fronting configurations are genuine (information-seeking) questions. Neat as this taxonomy might look like, more recently it has been shown that, in Modern Greek, which is a typically wh-fronting language, each wh-configuration may map to either meaning. On the assumption that syntax mediates between form and meaning, mapping the former to the latter, the question that the Modern Greek evidence raises is to what extent syntax regulates the form-meaning associations under consideration. In other words, the question is “how much” of the relevant semantics is registered in the corresponding syntactic structures. Capitalizing on already documented evidence from distribution, interpretation, and intonation, the present paper argues that syntax encodes certain aspects of the relevant semantics, and pans out a formal system that attributes other aspects of this semantics to a direct interaction between PF and LF, thereby recognizing the existence of this interface area. The theoretical import(ance) of this analysis (part of which is prefigured elsewhere) is that it revisits the standard organization of the Grammar, as viewed from a Minimalist perspective.

Affiliations: 1: Independent scholar crsvlachos@gmail.com

10.1163/15699846-01402003
/content/journals/10.1163/15699846-01402003
dcterms_title,pub_keyword,dcterms_description,pub_author
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Within the framework of Generative Grammar, a standard (hypo)thesis has been that a (broad) wh-parameter may distinguish between two types of languages: those that front wh-elements (e.g., English) and those that realize them in situ (e.g., Chinese). Wh-fronting languages may also attest in situ arrangements, and a tacit (hypo)thesis, tied to the one above, is that in situ configurations translate to echo questions, while fronting configurations are genuine (information-seeking) questions. Neat as this taxonomy might look like, more recently it has been shown that, in Modern Greek, which is a typically wh-fronting language, each wh-configuration may map to either meaning. On the assumption that syntax mediates between form and meaning, mapping the former to the latter, the question that the Modern Greek evidence raises is to what extent syntax regulates the form-meaning associations under consideration. In other words, the question is “how much” of the relevant semantics is registered in the corresponding syntactic structures. Capitalizing on already documented evidence from distribution, interpretation, and intonation, the present paper argues that syntax encodes certain aspects of the relevant semantics, and pans out a formal system that attributes other aspects of this semantics to a direct interaction between PF and LF, thereby recognizing the existence of this interface area. The theoretical import(ance) of this analysis (part of which is prefigured elsewhere) is that it revisits the standard organization of the Grammar, as viewed from a Minimalist perspective.

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/content/journals/10.1163/15699846-01402003
2014-01-01
2018-04-20

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