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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Wh-in-situ phenomena in French Chang, Lisa


The goal of this thesis is to provide an alternative theory of how wh-expressions are interpreted. I propose that French wh-words are interpreted through an A-bar binding relation subject to a modified Generalized Binding Theory (cf. Aoun, 1985; henceforth GBT) which is an LF module of the Minimalist Framework (Chomsky, 1995). Among the four interrogative strategies available in French, it will be demonstrated that wh-clefts and wh-in-situ pattern together as they can only be used in strongly presupposed contexts unlike reinforced interrogatives and inversion+wh-fronting. French exhibits a puzzle in the domain of Wh/QP interaction. Standard analyses predict an ambiguity/non-ambiguity contrast depending on the c-command relation between the wh-word and the QP (May, 1985, etc.). Crucially, a wh-in-situ c-commanded by a universal QP (among other A'-elements) lacks a non-echo interpretation; only an echo reading is available. Furthermore, a wh-in-situ within an embedded clause only has an echo reading. Contrastively, an overtly moved wh-word can always be interpreted as non-echo regardless of an intervening A'- element or a clause boundary. I argue that French in-situ facts can be captured by the GBT. I propose that wh-words are A'-anaphors that receive an interrogative interpretation by being bound to a null Q operator (C°). This binding relation is subject to locality conditions. First, the lack of a non-echo reading of a wh-in-situ c-commanded by a QP is a violation of a Specified Antecedent Condition which requires an A'-anaphor to be bound by the closest potential antecedent. Second, the matrix clause restriction is captured by a Matrix Clause Condition requiring an A'-anaphor to be bound within its minimal finite clause. Under minimalist views of movement, a strong [wh] feature of French null Q attracts a wh-word to raise overtly and adjoin to the root. Because overtly moved whwords enter LF in the most local binding relation possible with the null Q (spec-head), they may always be interpreted as non-echo. Lastly, I adopt Chierchia's (1993) Weak Crossover (WCO) analysis of Wh/QP interaction to capture the ambiguity/non-ambiguity contrast in French overt syntax. The WCO approach further supports our proposals concerning the composition of French wh-words; they are made up of a [wh] feature and an A'-anaphoric pronominal element, pro.

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