On Strategies of Question-Formation and the Grammatical Status of the Q-particle huwwa in Egyptian Arabic Wh-Questions

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University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics
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This paper addresses two salient properties of wh-interrogatives in EA: First, the utilization of the in-situ and ex-situ strategies to form wh-questions, and second, the optional occurrence of the (Q)uestion-particle huwwa in the initial position of such structures. In the first half of the paper, I argue that scope in wh-questions in EA is licensed via unselective binding by an interrogative operator, which may either bind a wh-phrase in the lexical domain, thereby giving rise to an in-situ wh-question, or a wh-phrase in SpecFocP, thereby giving rise to an ex-situ wh-question. In the second half of the paper, I turn to the discussion of the grammatical status of the Q-particle huwwa, arguing, on the basis of theoretical and empirical evidence, against both Wahba’s (1984) claim that huwwa is obligatorily needed to define the scope of in-situ wh-phrases, as well as Eid’s (1992) analysis of huwwa as derived from an underlying pronominal copula. Instead, I argue that huwwa is a clause-typing Q-morpheme that occupies a head position in an articulated left-periphery of the clause, has f-features, and induces (a degree of) presupposition. Diagnostics such as felicity of negative answers and suspension of the associated proposition underlying a question suggest that different degrees of presupposition underlie different types of wh-questions in EA, hence lending support to a fine-grained approach to the interpretation of questions, as has been argued recently in Romero and Han 2004, Tomioka 2009, and Eilam and Lai 2009.

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