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Linguistic Typology

Founded by Plank, Frans

Editor-in-Chief: Koptjevskaja-Tamm, Maria

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Volume 13, Issue 1


More on the indefinite-interrogative affinity: The view from embedded non-finite interrogatives

Hans-Martin Gärtner
Published Online: 2009-05-20 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/LITY.2009.001


German disallows embedded infinitival (wh-)interrogatives. Although cross-linguistic comparison has not been undertaken to any broader extent, most accounts attribute this gap to properties of complementizers and the C-system. By contrast, this gap will here be linked to a correlation between non-finite (wh-)interrogatives and the indefinite-interrogative affinity present in the inventory of wh-pronouns of many languages. The claim will be defended that, if a language has embedded non-finite (wh-)interrogatives, then its pronominal system does not have a robust indefinite/interrogative ambiguity. In addition to a crosslinguistic survey, it will be sketched – with particular reference to German – how to relate these two domains in terms of clausal typing and the illocutionary force of non-finite (root) interrogatives.

Keywords:: clause types; complementation; finiteness; illocutionary force; indefinite; infinitive; interrogative; pronouns; syntax

About the article

Correspondence address: Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS), Schützenstraße 18, 10117 Berlin, Germany; e-mail:

Received: 2008-03-10

Revised: 2008-11-18

Published Online: 2009-05-20

Published in Print: 2009-05-01

Citation Information: Linguistic Typology, Volume 13, Issue 1, Pages 1–37, ISSN (Online) 1613-415X, ISSN (Print) 1430-0532, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/LITY.2009.001.

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