Edited by Eric J. Reuland, Tanmoy Bhattacharya and Giorgos Spathas
[Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 108] 2007
► pp. 175–211
Argument prominence and the nature of superiority violations
This paper studies the mapping of argument structure into higher parts of the clause and examines the relation of argument structure to multiple wh-structuresand Superiority phenomena. Superiority effects are commonly assumed to arise when wh -movement triggered by the feature-checking requirements of a [+Q] C 0 violates economy restrictions on movement (Shortest Move). The paper, however, points out certain serious diffi culties for a purely structural approach to Superiority patterns, and suggests an alternative analysis of the data. First, it is shown that the non-occurrence of Superiority effects in cases of multiple whfronting in Bangla seems to contradict the fact that pair-list answers to multiplewh -questions are expected/required to the same degree as they are in languages with clear wh -movement such as English. The obvious question that is raised is how one should reconcile the lack of Superiority effects in a language with the assumption that genuine wh -movement nevertheless occurs in the language? The paper shows, re-examining the generalizations about English, that Superiority effects are not the result of a purely structural fi lter such as Shortest Move but are rather controlled by a variety of factors: animacy distinctions among wh -phrases, thematic relations of the wh -phrases, stressing and prosodic weight of the wh -phrases and referential familiarity of the expected answer to a wh -question. Finally, the “Superiority” effects observable in multiple wh -sluices in Bangla are attributed to the tendency to copy the argument prominence relation in the non-sluiced clause.