In her paper "Multiple Wh Questions," Veneeta Dayal takes a comprehensive approach to the topic of questions involving multiple wh-elements. She begins the paper by discussing the way in which a study of multiple wh-questions might provide valuable insight into important theoretical claims, including the claim that there exists an intermediary level of syntactic form known as logical form (LF), and that certain Universal Grammar (UG) principles known to apply to overt syntactic representation may or may not apply at LF. Dayal goes on to note that phrases involving wh-elements are especially helpful for investigating "syntactic dependencies because in many languages [wh-elements] appear at the periphery of the clause, in the position at which they are assumed to be interpreted" (3).
[...] This disparity between the observed overt syntactic representation and the logical representation dictated by the possible answers (two pieces of information, i.e. two instances of “clause external quantification binding variable positions” supports the claim that there exists an additional level of syntax at which syntactic operations can take place. If there were no such disparity, there would be nothing motivating this claim, as the supposed logical form of sentences would be equivalent to their overt syntactic representation. (Huang (1981/1982) makes a similar argument using Chinese, which is all the more striking because Chinese does not exhibit any overt wh-movement at all.) Before continuing, we must note that the use of wh-fronting and possible answers for diagnosing scope involves an important theoretical assumption. [...]
[...] The only grammatical readings of 7c and 7d are as echo questions. Of course, they cannot be echo questions; because they are answers to a question they must be statements. How then would I respond to 7a, given that I could specify a value for “Which person” (Bill) but not “Which First, notice that the fact that I can specify the former value entails that I have enough contextual knowledge to know that Mary was buying books, and that one or more people has knowledge of where she bought each book (multiple pair reading). [...]
[...] Of course, the appropriateness of representing a sentence in a logical form distinct from its S-structure representation can still be argued for, namely by citing the disparity between 8 and 10 above. But as previously discussed, this disparity relies on a Hamblin-Karttunen interpretation of questions. Thus considering the status of LF in the context of Subjacency might lead us to believe that while it may be appropriate to represent a sentence in a logical form distinct from its structure representation, this LF representation does not have status as a distinct syntactic representation subject to UG principles. [...]
[...] Dayal briefly mentions a view embracing this possibility, noting that Reinhart (1997) “argues for a movement account for fronted wh only, reserving an account in terms of choice functions for all wh in-situ” I will put the above mentioned concerns aside and examine some of the implications of an LF account which includes movement. In other words: “What operations and principles hold at Here is where the study of wh- questions bears on two more important theoretical claims. In particular, Dayal uses wh-fronting and possible answers to explore the LF status of two UG principles, namely the Empty Category Principle (ECP) and the Subjacency Condition. [...]
[...] Dayal goes on to say that “Multiple wh questions have been said to have three different readings, a list reading, a REF-Q reading, and an echo-Q reading” (35). The former two types correspond to single pair and multiple pair answers, respectively, while the latter type has been previously discussed in this paper. Dayal provides a simple example that demonstrates the list/multiple pair answer reading: 12. Who cooked what? Furthermore, a context is provided: several dishes are in view of the questioner and the person being questioned, and several people are known to have cooked the dishes. [...]
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