Multiple wh-fronting

Multiple wh-fronting. Ed. by Cedric Boeckx and Kleanthes K. Grohmann. (Linguistics today 64.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2003. Pp. 292. ISBN 1588114198. $169 (Hb).

Reviewed by Sharbani Banerji, Ghaziabad, U. P. India

Multiple wh-questions do not show the same syntactic effects in all languages. The positions to which wh-phrases (whPs) move show typological variation, as well as variation within a language depending on the interpretation of the whPs. Thus, superiority effects too show typological variation. With Noam Chomsky’s minimalist program as the theoretical base, this collection of eleven papers tries to unravel the mysteries of wh-movement in various languages. The two most important works that have served as the background for most of the papers are Catherine Rudin’s (1988) work ‘On multiple questions and multiple wh-fronting’ and a series of works (e.g. 1997) by Željko Bošković on multiple wh-fronting.

In the ‘Introduction’ (1–15), the editors present a brief overview of the topic. In the first paper, ‘Symmetries and asymmetries in multiple checking’ (17–26), Cedric Boeckx compares the pattern of multiple wh-fronting attested in Bulgarian with that in Serbo-Croatian, and explains the differences by underlining the distinction between Match and Agree. In ‘On wh-islands and obligatory wh-movement contexts in South Slavic’ (27–50), Željko Bošković shows that all of the differences between Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian multiple wh-fronting constructions can be traced to the PF status of the Bulgarian interrogative C. ‘On the nature of multiple fronting in Yiddish’ (51–76), by Molly Diesing, concentrates on the issues of superiority and landing sites of multiple wh-fronting in Yiddish and its status in the overall typology of multiple wh-fronting. Marcel den Dikken, in ‘On the morphosyntax of wh-movement’ (77–98), makes a distinction between question-word phrases, echo-question phrases, and indefinites in terms of [+/–Wh] and [+/–Focus] features, and claims that wh-fronting targets different Specs. In ‘German is a multiple wh-fronting language!’ (99–130), Kleanthes K. Grohmann proposes a typological tripartition of wh-movement into zero, singular, and multiple wh-movement languages. He then argues that German is, on the one hand, like Bulgarian, and on the other, like Italian.

‘Deriving anti-superiority effects: Multiple wh-questions in Japanese and Korean’ (131–40), by Youngmi Jeong, studies anti-superiority effects in Japanese and Korean, and how the effect is avoided if there is an additional wh-element. The account does not rely on the empty category principle (ECP). Anikó Lipták, in ‘Conjoined questions in Hungarian’ (141–60), discusses conjoined multiple questions in Hungarian, providing evidence for a binary branching analysis of coordination. In ‘Persian wh-riddles’ (161–86), Ahmad R. Lotfi examines multiple wh-questions in Persian and proposes a timing analysis of the differences between wh-arguments and adjuncts in Persian. In ‘Non-wh-fronting in Basque’ (187–227), Lara Reglero offers an analysis of multiple questions in Basque, in the light of Bošković’s Attract-all-F approach. Joachim Sabel, in ‘Malagasy as an optional multiple wh-fronting language’ (229–54), analyzes (multiple) wh-questions in Malagasy, a wh-in-situ language that displays partial and full wh-movement as well.

The collection ends with ‘Multiple wh-fronting in Serbo-Croatian matrix questions and the matrix sluicing construction’ (255–84), by Sandra Stjepanović, who analyzes the positions to which whPs move in Serbo-Croatian .The behavior of multiple wh-phrases with respect to superiority in sluicing constructions reveals that sluicing must be a PF phenomenon.