July 26, 2019
This paper examines the use of plene writing as a marker of interrogative clauses in Old Babylonian letters. It is argued that plene writing here denotes a specific intonation contour, most probably a sharply rising melody. Main conclusions concerning its use: (1) Only polar questions carry interrogative intonation, not so wh-questions. (2) In alternative questions, only the first half usually carries interrogative intonation, not the second. (3) The (verbal or nominal) predicate of the sentence is the default carrier of interrogative intonation, but other elements may take over this role if they are focussed. (4) Interrogative intonation is always located on the final syllable of the affected phrase. (5) This implies that interrogative intonation regularly shifts onto enclitics, such as verbal object clitics, if the phrase contains any.