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Multiple Wh -Questions: Logical form and paired list readings

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The phenomenon of wh-fronting.
  3. Context dependent questions.
  4. The use of wh-fronting for diagnosing scope.
  5. Issues at stake when discussing multiple wh-questions.
  6. Multiple wh-questions and pair answers.
  7. Conclusion.

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). [...]

[...] Thus both 3a and 3b can be given paired list readings, while 4a and 4b cannot because they refer to just one subject, namely Bill. On this reading, 3a asks for a function mapping people to things seen. 3b then is partly acceptable because, if the person questioned chooses paired list reading, the inversion of and merely switches the domain and range of the function, and the question asks for a function mapping things seen to people. Also, the person being questioned might find this reversal easier if the context is such that the function maps one-to-one (i.e. [...]

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