Towards a Middle Ground between Engdahl and Heim on Functional Readings of Wh-Questions
Shrayana Haldar
May 2024

Engdahl (1986) accounted for functional readings of wh-questions like "Which picture of herself1 did no girl submit1?" by positing a polymorphic "which" and a covert operator that binds "herself" in the higher copy. Heim (2019) pointed out φ-featural and Binding Theoretic problems that arise from the fact that Engdahl’s operator acts as a binder itself, and proposed to solve them by having the entire NP restrictor "picture of herself" in situ, while having a unary which attach to the question skeleton. In this paper, I make the novel observation that, to account for functional readings of sentences like "Which picture that John1 liked did he1 show no girl?", a covert type-shifting operator that I propose and is quite similar to, but still critically different from, Engdahl’s is necessary to type-shift the relative clause containing "John" because it must be interpreted only upstairs to account for the lack of disjoint reference effect. Then, I propose a further metasemantic constraint to block operators like Engdahl’s while still allowing mine, so that the problems pointed out by Heim can remain resolved.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/008059
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: submitted to "Natural Language Semantics"
keywords: reconstruction, late merge, question semantics, functional reading, semantics, syntax
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