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Title: Questions and Focus in Bulgarian
Authors: Dukova-Zheleva, Galina
Keywords: Indo-European Languages
Balto-Slavic Languages
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: University of Ottawa
Abstract: This dissertation proposes a unified approach to the study of interrogatives in bulgarian based on experimental data on wh- and yes/no interrogatives and on the semantic analysis of polar questions. It investigates the hierarchy of wh-words, the syntactic structure of interrogatives, the semantics of polar questions and the connection between focus and questions in general. The experimental part of this dissertation reports on two grammaticality judgment tasks. It is argued that (a) wh-movement is an instance of focus movement; (b) only the highest animate element is further raised to speccp; and (c) in addition to superiority, an animacy-based hierarchy is critical in wh-ordering in bulgarian. The experimental data adds a new dimension to the ongoing debate concerning the types of functional categories required in the left edge of the clause, suggesting that in bulgarian there is a need for at least two syntactic projections related to wh-movement of non-d-linked wh-elements, focus phrase and complementizer phrase. The semantic part of the dissertation is dedicated to the interpretation of polar interrogatives in bulgarian and their close relation to focus. I assume that the interrogative particle li heads the clause-internal focus projection, whereas the interrogative word dali is a true interrogative complementizer. Thus, dali-questions parallel english polar interrogatives, whereas li-questions are focus-dependent and their interpretation is always related to the contextually restricted set of alternatives evoked by focus. Two types of question operators are proposed. First, dali is equivalent to the silent question operator q in english. Second, li is a focus-dependent question operator (qf) which combines with the contextually-restricted set of alternatives. This dissertation brings new evidence confirming the long discussed connection between interrogative words and focus. In constituent questions, this relation is reflected in that wh-words move to specfocp. In polar questions, the effect of focus is manifested in their focus-dependent semantics. This work shows that there is an important parallel between polar and constituent questions, and that focus-sensitive operators, particles, and adverbs function similarly across different languages. Thus, this dissertation argues in favour of the possibility that focus-dependency is a general property of interrogatives in universal grammar.
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