Question Particles and Disjunction
Karattuparambil Jayaseelan
April 2008

In many languages the disjunction marker is also a question particle. It is argued that in these languages, what superficially functions as a question particle is the lexical realization of the disjunction operator. If we now say that the disjunction marker is a copy of the disjunction operator, we have an explanation of the homophony of the disjunction marker and the question particle. In these languages, Baker’s (1970) identification of the question particle with the question operator could indeed be valid, given our understanding that question semantics involves disjunction. Contrary to current typological claims about English, it is claimed that English has a question particle, namely ‘if’. It is argued – on the basis of cross-linguistic and cross-dialectal evidence – that ‘if’ is a lexical realization of the disjunction operator, and that it is underlyingly present in the C of both yes-no questions and wh-questions.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/000644
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Published in: EFL University, Hyderabad
keywords: question particle, disjunction, unselective binding, question operator, disjunction marker, syntax
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