A'-dependencies in Spanish and Basque

Date of Completion

January 2004


Language, Linguistics|Language, Modern




This dissertation offers a study of A-dependencies in Spanish and Basque. More specifically, I analyze wh-movement, its interaction with Focus and Topic and the adjacency requirement between wh-phrases and the verb. In order to offer an analysis of these phenomena, I explore the following topics: in situ questions in Spanish, (multiple) question formation in Basque, and comparative subdeletion phenomena in Spanish. ^ In chapter 2 I provide an account of the behavior of wh-in-situ questions in Spanish. The analysis pursued in the chapter reveals that the distribution of in situ wh-phrases is governed by phonological properties. More precisely, in situ wh-phrases in Spanish need to appear last within their intonational phrase. This generalization captures the behavior of all in situ wh-phrases in this language. ^ In chapter 3 I discuss the strategies Basque employs to formulate a multiple wh-question. I show that in the in situ strategy no wh-phrase remains in situ in the structure: the postverbal wh-phrase raises overtly to check a topic feature. I offer an analysis for Multiple Wh-fronting structures in which the wh-phrase closer to the verb is focalized and the rest of the wh-phrases are topicalized. I propose that Basque has a head with two features: Attract-all-discourse and Attract-1Topic (cf. Bošković 1999, 2002). Under this analysis, all wh-phrases bearing focus or topic are moved to the front of the sentence. Furthermore, the highest wh-phrase must move first. The fact that only one wh-phrase is focalized follows from the adjacency requirement of a PF verbal affix. ^ In chapter 4 I examine the role of contrastive focus in comparative subdeletion constructions in Spanish. Spanish allows Comparative Subdeletion under the two following circumstances: obligatory verb gapping and word order alteration of the elements in the comparative clause (“Inversion Strategy”). I capture the Spanish data by appealing to the claim that there is a strong focus feature requirement in the “Inversion Strategy”. I claim that the NP containing the quantity term must undergo overt movement to check a strong focus feature. If the feature is not checked, the derivation can still be rescued by deleting the strong feature in PF. ^