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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 four A syntactic analysis of Dagbani wh-in-situ questions

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4.0 Introduction

The preceding chapter mentioned that there are two distinct positions that Dagbani wh-phrases may occupy in the formation of wh-questions. These are the in-situ and ex-situ positions. The previous chapter offered a description and syntactic analysis of the latter strategy. I showed that there is a requirement for the overt spell-out of the focus heads kà and ń, which must immediately follow the extracted wh-phrases. I offered a Minimalist analysis of the structure of ex-situ wh-questions. Also discussed in the chapter were themes such as: the distribution of the focus heads, and the syntactic correlation between wh-extraction and focus movement. Finally, I accounted for the two patterns of overt movement reflexes including the spell-out of traces and resumptives. This chapter focuses on a syntactic analysis of the wh-in-situ questions. It is shown that all kinds of wh-operators can be hosted in the in-situ position (with the exception of subject wh-phrases which are disallowed in this position). Crucial in this chapter is the proposal that the interpretation of the wh-in-situ questions is essentially the same as their ex-situ counterparts since they are genuine wh-questions requiring new information in the discourse and not necessarily echo questions as often assumed. Thus, Dagbani is unlike a language like English where in-situ wh-questions receive echo interpretation. I propose a Minimalist analysis that explains the syntax of wh-in-situ questions adopting the feature based account of Chomsky (1995). I further attempt to offer a formal account for the ban on subject in-situ...

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