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Linguistic Inquiry

Fall 2016, Vol. 47, No. 4, Pages 591-629
(doi: 10.1162/LING_a_00224)
© 2016 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A New Diagnostic for Cyclic Wh-Movement: Discourse Particles in German Questions
Article PDF (982.64 KB)
Abstract

This article presents novel evidence for cyclic wh-movement. Two experiments show that the question-sensitive particle denn in German is more readily accepted when occurring in an independent interrogative clause than in a dependent clause embedded in a wh-question. Importantly, however, acceptance of denn in a dependent clause increases significantly when a wh-phrase has been moved out of that clause. We argue that denn is locally licensed by an interrogative Force head. In dependent clauses, this licensing can be mediated by long wh-movement leaving a transient representation of interrogative force in Spec,CP. Without such a mediating trace in Spec,CP, the licensing of the particle fails. In conclusion, denn in a dependent clause indicates cyclic wh-movement.