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Why questions, presuppositions, and intervention effects

S. Tomioka
Journal of East Asian Linguistics
Vol. 18, No. 4 (November 2009), pp. 253-271
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40607832
Page Count: 19
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Why
              questions, presuppositions, and intervention effects
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Abstract

Intervention effects, triggered by the presence of an intervener c-commanding a Wh-phrase, are known to be weaker in WHY questions in Japanese and Korean. The existing analyses of this surprising phenomenon focus on the comparison between WHY questions and other Wh-questions but have not paid attention to the fact that the sentence is still judged more acceptable when an intervener does not c-command WHY. This paper presents a novel account that appeals to a peculiar presuppositional property of WHY questions and their impact on the information structure of Wh-questions. Unlike the previous analyses, the proposal can correctly derive graded acceptability of WHY questions in intervention contexts. It is also shown that the re-emergence of intervention effects with embedded WHY questions also has its root in the presupposition.

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