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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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Chapter two The grammar of the Dagbani interrogative DP

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2.0 Introduction

The goal of this chapter is to present a systematic account of the interrogative Determiner Phrase (DP) of Dagbani. Given the fact that wh-phrases are core elements of Dagbani wh-questions, a thorough investigation of their inventory, internal structure, morpho-syntactic characterizations and other salient grammatical properties is essential. Additionally, knowledge of the grammar of wh-phrases will be crucial to understanding the discussion of wh-questions in the following chapters. The grammatical properties the wh-phrases discussed include number marking, the distinction between human/nonhuman and lexical ambiguities. I further show that [±] animate is not relevant in pronominal wh-phrases. The chapter also reviews earlier works on the topic including Issah (2015a) and Olawsky (1999). Olawsky’s inventory has gaps (because he misses some wh-phrases) and misinterprets one form (ŋùn). Issah (2015a) also fails to provide an exhaustive list. I further provide an alternative analysis where I offer an exhaustive list of the wh-phrases. Additionally, I clarify the use/meaning of some wh-phrases that were misinterpreted in the previous studies.

My contribution in this chapter is both empirical and theoretical. From the empirical perspective, I offer a full list of wh-phrases in Dagbani, indicating gaps in the previous literature on this topic and offering alternative analyses which are supported empirically. From a theoretical perspective, I offer a structural analysis of the interrogative DP, proposing the projection of a functional number phrase (NumP) based on the characterization of the wh-phrases. I also offer a theoretical account of suppletion which is demonstrated...

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