From interrogatives to relatives: A comprehensive account of wh-constructions
Radek Simik
September 2023

This paper looks at the mutual relation among a number of types of wh-constructions. It proposes that wh-constructions (and wh-words) are organized in what I call a wh-hierarchy - beginning with simplest wh-interrogatives, going via (un)conditionals and correlatives, free relatives, light-headed relatives, and finishing with the most complex headed relatives. This hierarchy is claimed to follow from an incremental structural growth of wh-words, mirroring the growth of the respective wh-clauses (foc-top-rel-mod). The hierarchy receives empirical support from many grammatical and linguistic domains, particularly morphology (wh-word lexicalization patterns), syntax (wh-in-situ vs. ex-situ, structural height of wh-movement landing site), typology (cross-linguistic availability of wh-words in the individual constructions), diachrony, and L1-acquisition. The paper builds on data from a range of genealogically and geographically distant languages, including Indo-European, Uralic, Caucasian, Mesoamerican, or Papuan.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/007142
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: To appear in The Cambridge Handbook of Comparative Syntax (eds. Sjef Barbiers, Norbert Corver, Maria Polinsky)
keywords: wh-constructions, wh-words, interrogatives, relatives, free relatives, light-headed relatives, headed relatives, correlatives, unconditionals, semantics, morphology, syntax
previous versions: v2 [June 2023]
v1 [February 2023]
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