D-linking and the semantics of wh-in-situ


  • Joshua Martin Harvard University




question semantics, multiple wh-questions, d-linking, discourse structure, contrastive topic, experimental semantics


Theories of pair-list readings of multiple wh-questions commonly posit an interpretive asymmetry between the fronted and in-situ wh-phrases, where the fronted wh-phrase is argued to function as the sortal key, have a requirement to be interpreted exhaustively, or be obligatorily D-linked. To clarify the empirical landscape of such debate, I present three experiments which tease apart the effects of these often-confounded discourse factors on the order and interpretation of multiple wh-questions. They are found to have either inconsistent or insignificant effects, arguing against a unique discourse-sensitivity of the fronted wh-phrase. Theories of questions which encode such an asymmetry should accordingly be revised.

Author Biography

  • Joshua Martin, Harvard University
    PhD student in the Department of Linguistics




How to Cite

Martin, Joshua. 2021. “D-Linking and the Semantics of Wh-in-Situ”. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 6 (1): 448–462. https://doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v6i1.4981.