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On the structure of A-bar constructions in Dagbani: Perspectives of «wh»-questions and fragment answers

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Samuel Alhassan Issah

This book provides an account of the structure of A-bar constructions, focusing on wh-questions and fragment answers in Dagbani, a Mabia (Gur) language spoken in Northern Ghana. It demonstrates that Dagbani wh-phrases occur in two distinct positions, ex-situ and in-situ, except for subject wh-phrases, which only occur in the former position. It provides a theoretical analysis of the distribution of the wh-phrases couched within minimalism (Chomsky 1995). Finally, the book gives an account of the structural correlation between wh-questions and their answers with the focus on the syntactic derivation of fragment answers. The author contends that the derivation of fragment answer involves two processes: A-bar movement together with PF-deletion

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This dissertation provides a description and analysis of the structure of A-bar constructions, focusing on the derivation of wh-questions and fragment answers in Dagbani, a Mabia (Gur) language spoken in Northern Ghana. I show that wh-phrases are crucial syntactic elements in the derivation of wh-questions and further examine the inventory and grammatical characteristics of these wh-phrases. I demonstrate that in the formation of wh-questions, wh-phrases occur in two distinct positions, ex-situ and in-situ, except for subject wh-phrases, which only occur in the former position. I provide a theoretical analysis of the distribution of wh-phrases couched within Minimalism (Chomsky 1995). I assume that Dagbani has two focus feature specifications in its lexicon: a strong and a weak focus feature. Whereas the former triggers overt syntactic movement of the wh-phrase from its base position to the clausal left periphery, the latter licenses covert movement at LF. I further show that while the ex-situ wh-questions mandatorily require the overt morphological presence of the particles kà and ń which must be c-commanded by the extracted wh-operator, their in-situ counterparts do not have these syntactic items overtly expressed. I account for this absence of phonologically visible focus heads in in-situ wh-questions by referring to the fact that LF movement is a post-syntactic phenomenon, and therefore, although the focus heads are present in the in-situ wh-questions, they are not phonologically visible to the syntax. Consequently, I conclude that kà and ń are spell-outs of this strong focus feature which establish the needed Spec-Head configuration for feature...

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