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Linguistic Inquiry

Fall 2016, Vol. 47, No. 4, Pages 631-668
(doi: 10.1162/LING_a_00225)
© 2016 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ellipsis in Wh-in-Situ Languages: Deriving Apparent Sluicing in Hindi-Urdu and Uzbek
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Wh-in-situ languages have a special role to play in investigating the relation between the wh-syntax of a language and the availability of sluicing-like constructions (SLCs). Van Craenenbroeck and Lipták (2013) propose that whether a language exhibits genuine sluicing should be predictable from the syntax of the language’s wh-questions in nonelliptical contexts. We refine this formulation by considering SLCs in two contrasting wh-in-situ languages, Hindi-Urdu and Uzbek. Hindi-Urdu wh-movement occurs in the narrow syntax, but is obscured by PF processes; in Uzbek, no narrow syntax dependency is involved. Correspondingly, only Hindi-Urdu SLCs involve genuine sluicing; Uzbek SLCs are derived from reduced copular clauses. Thus, narrow syntax wh-movement may be obscured by lower-copy pronunciation in nonelliptical environments; the head of the wh-chain is then pronounced in combination with ellipsis, but not otherwise. Here, we demonstrate that the availability of genuine sluicing in Hindi-Urdu and Uzbek corresponds directly to the specific properties of their wh-systems, but not necessarily to the surface position of wh-material in a typical constituent question.