What Moves Where When in Which Language?

MIT Thesis, 1997

Much work in syntax has used the properties of wh-movement as a probe into the nature of the derivation. One perennial issue is the nature of wh-in-situ. Is wh-in-situ related to its scopal position by an operation like movement or by an entirely different process? If wh-in-situ does undergo invisible movement, why is this movement invisible? If we assume a derivational model, what is the relation between overt and covert movement in the derivation?

In this thesis I will investigate the properties of multiple-wh questions in a number of languages (particularly Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, Chinese, and Japanese), in an attempt to find evidence for a particular answer to these questions. I will argue that the classic model assumed by the Extended Standard Theory is essentially correct; there is covert movement, and all covert movement follows all overt movement in the derivation (and is therefore invisible because it takes place after the point in the derivation at which the representation is interpreted by the phonological component).

One crucial aspect of the argument will involve investigation of the nature of additional-wh effects. I will claim that additional-wh effects only appear when certain structural and derivational conditions on the relation between the wh-movements involved are met, and additional-wh effects can therefore be used to determine which wh-movement operations precede which others.

Chapter 1 is an overview of some competing claims about the architecture of the grammar, and a discussion of the nature of evidence that might help us to choose among these claims. In Chapter 2 I discuss the distribution of wh-island effects in a number of languages, arguing that the overt/covert distinction is in fact irrelevant to the distribution of wh-islands. Chapter 3 is a discussion of the nature of Superiority effects in several languages. In Chapter 4 I investigate the nature of feature strength and develop a version of Procrastinate which is empirically distinct in several desirable ways from that developed by Chomsky (1993). Finally, Chapter 5 discusses additional-wh effects in some detail.

Thesis Supervisor: David Pesetsky

Title: Professor of Linguistics

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