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Linguistic Inquiry

Spring 2016, Vol. 47, No. 2, Pages 283-305
(doi: 10.1162/LING_a_00211)
© 2016 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Size Matters: The Syntax of Disjunctive Questions
Article PDF (157.63 KB)

In languages like English, disjunctive questions have an alternative (ALT) reading and a yes/no (YN) reading. The two readings behave differently; there are environments in which one reading disappears and the other one survives. In this article, examining novel Croatian data, I investigate the environments where the YN reading disappears. Such environments suggest that the two readings of disjunctive questions differ in the size of the disjuncts: ALT readings arise when the disjoint constituents are bigger than the TP, while YN readings arise from disjunctions of phrases as big as the surface string suggests and not bigger than the TP.