Covert movement in English probing wh-questions




wh-question, echo question, probing question, wh-in-situ, wh-movement, covert movement


Besides fronted information-seeking questions, English also allows for two types of wh-in-situ ones: echo questions, which are used to request a repetition or a clarification of a previous utterance, and probing questions, which are often used in quiz shows, classroom settings, and child-directed speech to "prompt" the addressee for an answer. An acceptability judgment task shows that PQs with multiple wh-phrases get a significantly lower acceptability score than echo questions with multiple wh-phrases despite their similarity in surface structure, which suggests a syntactic difference below the surface. Independent syntactic evidence confirms the result and further suggests that while echo questions involve no syntactic movement (Dayal, 1996), probing questions involve covert wh-movement.




How to Cite

Nguyen, An Duy, and Géraldine Legendre. 2020. “Covert Movement in English Probing Wh-Questions”. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 5 (1): 180–186.