The closeness constraint on focus association and the syntax of Q-particles

Muyi Yang


While in some languages focus association at a distance is possible, in some languages, focus particles must be as close to their associates as possible. In this paper, I argue that the closeness constraint is attested also in wh-questions. The evidence comes from Sinhala (Indo-Aryan) wh-questions, in which the Q-particle is restricted to positions that are as close to the wh-word as possible. I show that this constraint poses challenges for the existing analyses of Sinhala wh-questions, and present a new account under which the Q-particle undergoes phase-constrained overt movement.


Sinhala; focus; wh-questions; Q-particles; degree questions; phase

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