The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square Extra Session 10/15 - Michael Erlewine and Hadas Kotek

Speakers: Michael Erlewine and Hadas Kotek
Title: Diagnosing covert pied-piping
Date/Time: Monday, Oct 15, 3-4p
Location: 32-D831
Note unusual date/time and location

(This is a practice talk for NELS. Full abstract is available here (PDF).)

We argue for the existence of covert pied-piping in English multiple questions. Novel data shows that Focus Intervention Effects occur within a covertly pied-piped constituent containing the in-situ wh-phrase. Focus-sensitive determiners (e.g. no and few) in the covertly pied-piped constituent cause ungrammaticality (1a), while focus-sensitive interveners outside of the region do not (1b), thus acting as a diagnostic for the size of covert pied-piping. We account for these facts through (a) covert pied-piping of in-situ wh-phrases (through Cable’s Q-theory), (b) the interpretation of pied-piped constituents using focus alternative computation (following Horvath, Krifka, Cable), and (c) Beck’s (2006) theory of Focus Intervention.

(1a) Which boy has read ✓a/✓some/✓the/*no/*few book(s) from which library?
(1b)✓ Which boy hasn’t read a/any/some/the book(s) from which library?

We then extend the domain of inquiry to discuss pied-piping in focus movement, and provide additional support for the theory of covert focus-movement (Krifka 2006, Wagner 2006). While there are several options for size of pied-piping in overt movement, we show that only the largest possible constituent can be moved covertly. We suggest that this shows the preference of LF and core syntax, which is suppressed by the needs of PF in the case of overt movement.