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11.3.1. Wh-questions

This section discusses wh-movement in so-called wh-questions. Section starts with a discussion of wh-questions such as given in (91), in which the wh-phrase is moved into the initial position of its own clause. We will show that this movement is motivated by the need to form operator-variable chains in the sense of predicate calculus.

a. Wati leest Peter ti?
  what  reads  Peter
  'What is Peter reading?'
b. Marie vraagt [wati Peter ti leest].
  Marie asks  what  Peter  reads
  'Marie asks what Peter is reading.'

Other issues that will be discussed in Section are the obligatoriness of wh-movement in wh-questions, pied piping (the fact that wh-movement sometimes also affects non-interrogative material that is part of the clausal constituent that includes the wh-element), and stranding (the fact that wh-movement sometimes does not affect non-interrogative material that is part of the clausal constituent that includes the wh-element).

a. * Peter leest wat?
wh-movement is obligatory
  Peter reads  what
b. [Welk boek]i leest ti Peter?
pied piping of non-interrogative material
  which book reads  Peter
  'Which book is Peter reading?'
c. Wati leest Peter [ti voor een boek]?
stranding of non-interrogative material
  what reads  Peter  for a book
  'What kind of book is Peter reading?'

      Section continues with a discussion of so-called long wh-movement, that is, cases in which a wh-phrase is extracted from an embedded clause, as in (93a). There are several restrictions on this type of wh-extraction. For example, while long wh-movement is fully acceptable from object clauses selected by a verb of saying, it gives rise to a degraded result if the object clause is selected by a factive verb such as betreuren'to regret;' see the contrast between the examples in (93a&b). Furthermore, long wh-movement is completely impossible from adverbial clauses such as (93c). We will discuss a number of factors that may affect the acceptability of this type of long wh-movement.

a. Wati zei Jan [dat Peter ti gekocht had]?
non-factive object clause
  what  said  Jan   that  Peter  bought  had
  'What did Jan say that Peter had bought?'
b. ?? Wati betreurde Jan [dat Peter ti gekocht had]?
factive object clause
  what  regretted  Jan   that  Peter  bought  had
  Compare: '??What did Jan regret that Peter had bought?'
c. * Wat lachte Jan [nadat Peter ti gekocht had]?
adverbial clause
  what  laughed   Jan   after  Peter  bought  had
  Compare: '*What did Jan laugh after Peter had bought?'

      It should be noted that examples like (93c) cannot be saved by pied piping of the adverbial clause: sentence (94a) is infelicitous as a wh-question despite the fact that the same sentence is fully acceptable (with a different intonation contour) if wat is interpreted as an existential pronoun, as in (94b).

a. * [Nadat Peter wat gekocht had] lachte Jan?
  after  Peter what  bought  had  laughed Jan
b. [Nadat Peter wat gekocht had] lachte Jan.
  after  Peter something  bought  had  laughed Jan
  'After Jan had bought something, Jan laughed.'

The unacceptability of both (93c) and (94a) thus shows that in certain syntactic environments a wh-element may be inaccessible for wh-movement, as a result of which certain questions which can easily be expressed in predicate calculus simply cannot be formulated in natural language by run-of-the-mill wh-movement. Section will briefly discuss a set of such syntactic environments in which a wh-elements are inaccessible for wh-movement, which are often referred to as islands.
      Section concludes with a discussion of so-called multiple wh-questions, that is, questions with more that one wh-phrase. We will discuss the semantics of such constructions as well as a number of restrictions on their form.

a. Wie heeft wie geholpen?
  who  has  who  helped
  'Who has helped who?'
b. Wie heeft wat waar verstopt?
  who  has  what  where  hidden
  'Who has hidden what where?'
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