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BonanCaterina (2018), On Insituness and (very) Low Wh-Positions: The Case of Trevigiano, in Generative Grammar in Geneva
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Bonan Caterina (2017), C'est or sé? On the cartography of clefts, in Generative Grammar in Geneva
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Interrogatives interface syntactic, semantic and prosodic representations. Since all human grammars have means to construct questions, their study constitutes a privileged locus for the exploration of the interaction between the components or modules of I-language (or mental grammar, viz., Chomsky 1986). 36 years after the publication of On wh movement (Chomsky 1977), many aspects of the grammar of questions still challenge us. Underlying this project is the conviction that the study of interrogatives must focus on the complex ways in which syntax and prosody interact.The study of this interaction is particularly urgent at the present time. Perhaps the central issue of current research in Linguistics concerns the frontiers of I-language, that is, the nature of the mapping between the sensorimotor and conceptual-intentional systems and the role of the computational system.This project focuses on a specific empirical domain, that of wh in situ interrogatives in French. The choice of a narrow domain is methodologically justified because a less bounded domain would not allow for the kind of detailed and controlled exploration of prosody and syntax that we wish to pursue.Despite the amount of literature on the subject, French wh in situ still lacks both an adequate empirical description and a satisfactory analysis. The literature ascribes conflicting syntactic, semantic and prosodic properties to wh in situ and on the basis of this problematic data, researchers have proposed complex and mutually-incompatible analytic machineries with strong implications for the architecture of the grammar.In our view, these lacunae can only be remedied by a detailed and controlled research, in which the syntactic and the prosodic investigations cross-fertilize each other. Our contribution consists of an intimately integrated study of the prosody and syntax of wh in situ, pairing quantitative and experimental techniques with a crosslinguistically-sensitive theoretical approach.Beyond establishing a firm database for French wh in situ and clearing up the confusion concerning its distribution, some of the broad questions that will be targeted are the following:•Is wh in situ truly an optional strategy of question-formation or does it carry shades of meaning or a pragmatic import (D-linking, presuppositions) different from ex situ wh? What is the formal status of an optional operation?•How is the French pattern different from the patterns observed in other optional wh in situ languages? Why is wh in situ available in French but not in closely-related languages like Italian? How can the cross-linguistic variation be accounted for?•French wh in situ is banned in main questions with est-ce que and with subject clitic inversion and in indirect questions. How is this pattern to be accounted for?•Wh in situ can be shown to be marginal at best in preverbal subject position. Why is this so?•Are different imports of wh in situ disambiguated prosodically? What are the phonological mechanisms involved?•Does the wh element count as prosodic focus?•If the wh element bears the main prominence, is prominence computed on the basis of the syntactic embedding or is it assigned by other mechanisms? In the second case, how can we formalize them?