Edited by Xabier Artiagoitia, Arantzazu Elordieta and Sergio Monforte
[Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 276] 2022
► pp. 41–64
The paper investigates unembedded hwæþer questions in Old English (OE). We argue that they represent an intermediate stage in the development of hwæþer ‘which of the two’ to modern English whether. Syntactically, we find a range of quasi-subordinating uses of hwæþer in questions that all have in common that the speaker expresses a pedagogical question. Pedagogical questions are questions the speaker knows the answer to, but is urging the addressee to consider while drawing their own conclusions. In the OE Boethius, hwæþer can convey this use-conditional pragmatic flavour for polar questions. It thus comes close in function to other use-conditional particles.