Thursday 3 December – Christos Vlachos

Speaker: Christos Vlachos (Queen Mary University of London)

Title: Wh-inquiries revis(it)ed

Date: Thursday 3 December

Venue: Van Wijkplaats 3/006

Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs

Abstract A standard (hypo)thesis, within the framework of Generative Grammar, has been that a wh-parameter may broadly classify languages into two types with respect to how they form wh-questions: languages like English usually front wh-elements, while languages like Chinese usually realize wh-elements in situ. Wh-fronting languages may also feature wh-in situ arrangements, and a tacit (hypo)thesis, tied to the aforementioned one, is that fronting configurations map to information-seeking (“true”) questions, while the in situ counterparts correspond to echo (“pseudo”) questions. Neat as this taxonomy may appear to be, in Greek, which is a typical wh-fronting language, each wh-configuration may map to either meaning. This evidence, in turn, raises the question as to “how much” of the relevant semantics is registered in the relevant syntactic structures. This is the question that this talk will address, by capitalizing on already documented evidence from distribution, interpretation and intonation. The idea to be spelled-out is that part of the relevant semantics is calculated in syntax, while another part is computed by intonation.

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