Linguistics 110 Linguistic Analysis: Sentences & Dialects
Lecture Number Six
Santa Isn't the Only Clause
That Moves

  1. Movement in Questions

    The movement rule approach may be used to explain a variety of structures which vary from basic sentence structure (deep structure). Notice that if we assume 'movement', or something similar, we can posit a single deep structure for all English sentences, e.g. S NP + VP, despite the fact that the object [V NP]VP somtimes occurs in front of the subject (the man whom I saw) and a part of the verb sometimes occurs before the subject (Will you play?). This approach assumes that all English senteces have the same deep structure, but some undergo transformation into a slightly different surface structure. This explains how the semantic relations remain the same even though the word order varies.

    The languages of the world exhibit two (and only two) types of questions: yes-no questions and interrogative-pronoun questions (a.k.a. wh-word questions).

    1. Yes-No Questions.

      Yes-no questions may ask for confirmation of the entire sentence, or may ask for confirmation of a portion of the sentence highlighted by prosodic features (e.g., intonation). They present a event or state in its entirety which is either correct or incorrect, and which the respondant must either confirm or deny.

      This type of question is formed in a distinct way in English: the auxiliary is raised to complementizer position (inversion). If the deep structure does not contain an auxiliary, a 'dummy' auxiliary, do, must be inserted.

      Questions have some pretty good moves, too!

    2. Wh Questions
      1. Questions with interrogative pronouns (that usually begin on wh) ask for additional information about the topic of the sentence.

      2. They are used when some information is known, but a crucial piece of information is missing.

      3. The interrogative pronoun, which substitutes for the missing informationis always raised to complementizer positon.

      4. The auxiliary is also raised, as in simple inversion.

        It is this structure that causes us to assume that the complementizer is a phrase rather than a simple category like S; there must be a position for both the interrogative pronoun and the auxliary to raise to.

      5. The example here is the same sentence as the previous one except that instead of Sue being the D(irect) O(bject), who is. The auxiliary has already been raised as in the example above.

      Interrogative pronoun questions have double moves!

  2. Exercises

    Here are a few sentences for you practice your analytical skills on. Draw the deep structure of these sentences, leaving a CP node for each, then draw a line indicating the movement pattern of each, following the pattern of the two sentences parsed above.

    Now Try a Few Yourself
    Should I finish my homework?
    Will Fritz fix the car for me?
    Are ducks waterproof?
    Did Lou fire her boyfriend?
    Is Leslie worried about Fred's thinking?
    Buffy gasped at what Stu was stewing over.
    What should I do with the broccoli?
    Where does the iron go?
    What did you do that for?
    When will Buffy arrive?
    Who did Lou send the loot to?
    What will Pete do with the peat?
    Where will Will marry Mary?
    Who should I ask about the Beanie Babies?
    When was Gwen doing her thing?
    What were you thinking about?

  3. Conclusion

    Complementizer clauses are the means by which clauses are nested inside each other, allowing infinitely long sentences. Complementizers are mostly conjunctions; however, relative and interrogative pronouns may be raised to complementizer position in order to form relative clauses and questions. Nothing may be moved anywhere in a sentence except to complementizer position and only two expressions may occupy complementizer positions.

    Notice that we have explained relative clauses and questions in terms of the same relatioship: movement of relative and interrogative pronouns to C(omplementizer position). One of the great puzzles of linguistics is: why are interrogative and relative pronouns (who, what, when, where, etc.) often identical? Is it because they behave identically in syntax? According to transformational grammar, their syntactic relationship is certainly something they hold in common and might, indeed, influence the fact that they are formally (phonologically) the same.

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