Parallels between Wh and Focus

Silvio Cruschina

in Discourse-Related Features and Functional Projections

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199759613
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932658 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Comparative Syntax

Parallels between Wh and Focus

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In this chapter it is proposed that the position of the focus within the clause depends on the peripheral focus projection with which the relevant discourse‐related feature is associated, either at the left periphery of the sentence or at the left periphery of the vP. The same analysis proves highly relevant in understanding the syntax of interrogative sentences, once established that the wh-element represents the focus constituent of a question. Evidence for this assumption comes from the parallel syntactic properties observed cross‐linguistically between focus and wh‐phrases. A detailed study of these two elements and their parallelism in Romance, particularly in Italian and Sicilian, offers the empirical ground for two major claims: (i) Informational Focus (IFoc) and Contrastive Focus (CFoc) represent two syntactically independent focus categories associated with two distinct peripheral projections; (ii) in the domain of wh‐questions, non‐D‐linked and D‐linked wh‐phrases correspond to IFoc and CFoc, respectively.

Keywords: Informational Focus; Contrastive Focus; D-linked wh-phrases; non-D-linked wh-phrases; distribution of focus; left periphery of the sentence; left periphery of the vP; Criteria; feature checking

Chapter.  15459 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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