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BY-NC-ND 3.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter November 14, 2006

French wh-in-situ Questions and Syntactic Optionality: Evidence from Three Data Types

  • Aria Adli


The aim of this paper is to corroborate the assumption of syntactic optionality for French wh-questions. In terms of a broader basis of evidence three different data types are utilized: Firstly, a qualitative interview approach suggests that wh-in-situ does not show the syntactic restrictions postulated by Bošković (1998) and Cheng & Rooryck (2000), weakening the evidence in favor of the assumption of LF-movement. Secondly, a graded grammaticality judgment test reveals that even in terms of fine nuances an identical level of grammaticality exists between the wh-in-situ form and its counterpart with wh-movement. Given the fact that several crucial judgments in the literature on French wh-in-situ are doubtful, these approaches turn out to be particularly helpful for controlling undesirable interferences in the judgment process and for obtaining more reliable data. Thirdly, a reading time study shows that both variants have the same cognitive complexity in processing. These empirical studies come along with methodological work concerning the development and evaluation of the instruments. From a conceptual point of view the inherent contradiction to which optionality and economy lead within the minimalist framework will be addressed. I will largely follow the suggestion of Haider & Rosengren (2003), who assume optional movement to be exploited at the interface level of syntax. Concerning the latter, I point out that different registers partly correlate with different French wh-questions.

Received: 2003-11-24
Revised: 2005-12-02
Published Online: 2006-11-14
Published in Print: 2006-11-01

© American Economic Association

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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