Olga Fernández Soriano

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
Talk Title: 
Non-agreeing split interrogatives and focus extension in Spanish
Event Type: 
Guest Speaker
Spring 2018
Thursday, April 19, 2018, 2:30 pm
Dpeartmental Library

In this talk, I will analyze the properties of a (special type of) split interrogatives in spoken standard Spanish. Split Interrogatives are formed by a wh-question followed by a tag, a phrase which constitutes a possible answer. The overall structure is interpreted as a yes/no question (as in what did John bring, a book?). In standard cases, the tag (marked as contrastive focus), matches the case and thematic features of the wh-element. Nevertheless, in Peninsular Spanish what we will call non-matching Split Interrogatives (NMSI) are also possible. In these cases, the wh-element and the focus (the tag) may not match; instead, it is the neuter form qué “what” that heads the wh-clause:

(i)      ¿Qué     vas, a tu casa?
      lit: What are you going, home?

I study these cases and propose a (biclausal) analysis involving an ellipsis process similar to the one taking place in fragment answers (Merchant 2004). To support this hypothesis, I will center my attention in a property that has gone unnoticed both in theoretical and descriptive studies: in NMIS there is a form-meaning mismatch, which will be accounted for in terms covert (contrastive) focus extension.