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


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 three The syntax of Dagbani ex-situ wh-questions


3.0 Introduction

In the preceding chapter, I investigated the structure of the interrogative determiner phrase (DP) of Dagbani paying attention to the inventory of wh-phrases, their internal structure and grammatical properties. I also offered a theoretical account of the marking of number in wh-phrases and provided a root analysis for suppletion. The central topic investigated in this chapter is the derivation of ex-situ wh-questions. I show that all categories of wh-phrases (that is, subjects and non-subjects) are compatible with the ex-situ strategy of forming wh-questions. I further demonstrate that there is a mandatory requirement for the overt morphological presence of the particles kà or ń/ḿ/ŋ, which immediately follow the dislocated wh-phrase. The chapter also presents a Minimalist analysis of the ex-situ wh-questions. A systematic discussion is also offered on the distribution of the particles kà and the homorganic nasal ń/ḿ/ŋ, which are obligatory in the formation of ex-situ wh-questions. Finally, I discuss the licensing of some reflexes of overt movement including the use of resumptive pronouns and traces.

This chapter proceeds as follows. Section 3.1 reviews earlier analyses of Dagbani ex-situ wh-questions highlighting some research gaps in the previous findings that the current research aims to fill. In section 3.2, I discuss the ex-situ strategy of deriving wh-questions delving into movement within matrix/root clauses. I show that the structure of ex-situ wh-questions exhibits a structural resemblance/parallelism to ex-situ focus constructions, motivating the proposal that the two target the same syntactic position. Also...

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