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On the left periphery of Spanish indirect interrogatives

José María García-Núñez
From the journal Probus

Abstract

Spanish doubly filled complementizer (DFComp) clauses differ from plain embedded questions in a number of respects (availability of discourse-related projections, islandhood, sequence of tenses, licensing of discourse particles). I argue that the contrast is caused by the presence in the left periphery of these clauses of an illocutionary projection (Haegeman 2004, 2006; Coniglio and Zegrean 2012; Woods 2016b) between the leftmost projection, here identified as Haegeman’s (2004) SubP, and the criterial interrogative projections (InterP and QembP). This illocutionary projection prevents syncretism of the clause-typing and the criterial projections, the default option in plain embedded clauses. This not only explains the range of structural phenomena differentiating DFComp clauses and embedded questions, but also a key semantic property of the former, namely their speech-act denotation. Finally, DFComp clauses are compared with plain embedded questions displaying root behavior under first-person matrix subjects and with English inverted embedded questions. Both are shown to pose minimal variants of the structural pattern proposed for DFComp clauses.

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the participants in the experiment reported in Section 4.2. I also thank my colleague, Prof. Maurice O’Connor, for giving me access to part of the Irish English data discussed in Section 5.2. I am especially grateful to two anonymous Probus reviewers, who made valuable comments and suggestions on an earlier version of this paper. Needless to say, they are not responsible for any remaining errors or shortcomings.

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Published Online: 2020-04-21
Published in Print: 2020-04-28

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