A left peripheral focus and a wh-element cannot co-occur in main interrogatives in Italian, whereas they can marginally co-occur in indirect questions. Moreover, the acceptability of the relevant configurations is further modulated by the grammatical function of the focal element, with a focalized indirect object more acceptable than a focalized direct object. In this paper we establish these generalizations experimentally through a controlled acceptability experiment. We discuss the theoretical underpinning of the observed pattern by tracing back this unusual kind of main-embedded asymmetry to plausible principles regulating the interface properties of focus and wh-constructions. We then extend the comparative dimension to Japanese. We propose that certain intervention effects observed in the literature may be amenable to the same explanatory ingredients at work in the incompatibility between focus and wh- in Italian; moreover certain apparent cases of double cleft in Japanese are analyzable as involving a single focus constituent, thus supporting the universality of the uniqueness of focus.

Bocci, G., Rizzi, L., Saito, M. (2018). On the Incompatibility of Wh and Focus. GENGO KENKYU, 154, 29-51 [10.11435/gengo.154.0_29].

On the Incompatibility of Wh and Focus

Giuliano Bocci
;
2018-01-01

Abstract

A left peripheral focus and a wh-element cannot co-occur in main interrogatives in Italian, whereas they can marginally co-occur in indirect questions. Moreover, the acceptability of the relevant configurations is further modulated by the grammatical function of the focal element, with a focalized indirect object more acceptable than a focalized direct object. In this paper we establish these generalizations experimentally through a controlled acceptability experiment. We discuss the theoretical underpinning of the observed pattern by tracing back this unusual kind of main-embedded asymmetry to plausible principles regulating the interface properties of focus and wh-constructions. We then extend the comparative dimension to Japanese. We propose that certain intervention effects observed in the literature may be amenable to the same explanatory ingredients at work in the incompatibility between focus and wh- in Italian; moreover certain apparent cases of double cleft in Japanese are analyzable as involving a single focus constituent, thus supporting the universality of the uniqueness of focus.
Bocci, G., Rizzi, L., Saito, M. (2018). On the Incompatibility of Wh and Focus. GENGO KENKYU, 154, 29-51 [10.11435/gengo.154.0_29].
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11365/1083117