Show Less
Restricted access

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

Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Chapter five Constraints on wh-movement in Dagbani


5.0 Introduction

The two preceding chapters delved into the derivation of Dagbani wh-questions. It was demonstrated that all wh-operators in Dagbani can be hosted in both the in-situ and ex-situ positions in the formation of wh-questions, with the exception of subject wh-phrases which exclusively occur in the latter position. This difference in the distribution of wh-phrases was formalized adopting Chomsky’s (1995) feature based theory. I proposed that unlike their ex-situ counterparts, in-situ wh-phrases carry a weak focus feature. Accordingly, this feature does not require to be checked off in overt syntax, but at LF (covertly). The lack of phonologically visible focus heads was attributed to the fact that LF movement is a post syntactic phenomenon, for which reason the focus heads are not visible to syntax. Consequently, the conclusion was drawn that just like ex-situ wh-questions, discussed in chapter three, the formation of in-situ wh-questions also involves movement of wh-phrases from their base positions to the Spec, Foc position for interpretation. The chapter also offered a formal explanation for the subject/non-subject asymmetry in in-situ wh-questions and proposed a reason for why subject wh-operators are banned in the in-situ wh-questions.

Having provided a syntactic account of in-situ and ex-situ wh-questions in the previous chapters, one legitimate question that arises is how they are derived, that is, whether via base generation or a movement operation. This chapter provides empirical evidence in support of the proposal that the derivation of wh-questions involves movement. The assertion that wh-questions...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.