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Auteur: Christopher DAVIS

Focus Particles, GIVENness, and Wh-Questions in A Southern Ryukyuan Language

Abstract/Résumé: In this paper I examine the use of the focus particle du in wh-interrogatives in the Miyaran dialect of Yaeyaman (a southern Ryukyuan language spoken on Ishigaki and surrounding islands in Southwestern Okinawa). The paper proposes a semantic account of the following two distributional properties of du: (1) Argument wh-words in Miyaran require du-marking. (2) Multiple du-marking is not allowed; Multiple wh-questions must have one and only one wh-word. On the basis of data from declaratives and yes-no questions (not discussed here for reasons of space), I argue that the du-marked phrase undergoes LF-movement to a clause-peripheral position, triggered by a focus operator FOC. The FOC operator marks the rest of the material in the clause as GIVEN (Schwarzschild 1999). I follow Kratzer’s (2004) suggestion that GIVENness is expressive (Potts 2005). FOC marks its complement as GIVEN, with existential binding of the variable left by movement of the co-indexed du-marked phrase. I present morpho-syntactic evidence that the wh-interrogative construction in Miyaran necessarily contains the operator FOC, marking some part of the question as given. The requirement that single wh-arguments must be du-marked can then be derived semantically. In multiple wh-questions, these two requirements appear to come in to conflict; I show how the semantic account sketched above allows for a natural resolution of this apparent conflict. SELECTED REFERENCES Kratzer, Angelika. 1999. Beyond ouch and oops: How descriptive and expressive meaning interact. Kratzer, Angelika. 2004. Interpreting focus: Presupposed or expressive meanings? a comment on Geurts and van der Sandt. Theoretical Linguistics 30:123-136. Potts, Christopher. 2005. The Logic of Conventional Implicatures. Oxford University Press. Schwarzschild, Roger. 1999. GIVENness, Avoid F, and other constraints on the placement of focus. Natural Language Semantics 7:141-177.