Professor Anna Roussou

UK Host Institution: University of Cambridge
Project status

Wh-pronouns as Indefinites: Implications for Linguistic Variation

The proposed project takes as its starting point the affinity between interrogative and indefinite pronouns, i.e., indefinites are morphologically derived from interrogatives (Greek 'kapjos' (someone) from 'pjos' (who)) or share the same form with them (Classical Greek 'tis'). The hypothesis is that interrogative pronouns are also indefinites. Depending on their internal structure (micro-parameter) they may be manipulated differently in syntax (macro-parameter), (dis)allowing for other readings beyond the interrogative one (e.g., Albanian 'kush' as ‘who’ or ‘anyone’). Syntactic options such as fronting of the wh-phrase in questions, word order variation, or question particles also play a role. The research theme of the proposed project has implications for parameterhierarchies, i.e., how crosslinguistic options depend on each other (Roberts 2019) and measurement of ‘language distance’ (Longobardi & Guardiano 2009); both have implications for the facilitation of second language (L2) learning. The proposed project opens the possibility of further collaboration on these topics.

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