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Interrogatives in the Romance Languagesfree

Interrogatives in the Romance Languagesfree

  • Nicola MunaroNicola MunaroCa Foscari University of Venice

Summary

This article investigates the structural properties of interrogative clauses in the Romance languages. Interrogative clauses are typically produced by the speaker in order to elicit information from the addressee; depending on the kind of information requested by the speaker, one can distinguish between two basic types of interrogatives: polar interrogatives and constituent interrogatives. In Romance main polar interrogatives, the interrogative interpretation of the utterance may be triggered only by prosodic means, through a final raising tone. While main polar interrogatives may employ different morphosyntactic strategies, embedded polar interrogatives display a greater degree of uniformity and are invariably introduced by the interrogative complementizer. As for constituent interrogatives, across Romance we find languages employing different strategies: Beside the ordinary fronting of the wh-item in the sentence-initial position, we also find wh-clefting, in which the sentence-initial wh-item is followed by an inflected copula and the complementizer; wh-in situ, with the wh-item appearing in sentence-internal position; wh-doubling, with two wh-items appearing, one in sentence-initial position and the other in sentence-internal position; and multiple wh-fronting, with both wh-items sitting in a left-peripheral position. In nonstandard questions the wh-item is obligatorily fronted, even in the languages that allow for wh-in situ in standard questions.

Subjects

  • Syntax

1. Introduction

The aim of this article is to provide a broad overview of the main morphosyntactic and interpretive properties of interrogative clauses across the Romance languages.

Interrogative clauses are typically produced in order to elicit information from the addressee. Depending on the kind of information requested by the speaker, one can distinguish between two basic types of interrogatives: polar interrogatives and constituent interrogatives.1 Polar interrogatives are produced in order to elicit the assignment of a truth value to the relevant propositional content; under current assumptions within the generative framework, polar interrogatives contain an abstract yes/no operator located in a dedicated position within the left periphery of the clause.

On the other hand, constituent interrogatives are uttered to elicit from the addressee the identification of a specific value for the variable introduced by the relevant wh-element; the wh-constituent is generally taken to undergo wh-movement from the sentence-internal argumental position to a left-peripheral landing site, leaving an empty category in the extraction site (cf. Chomsky, 1977). The moved constituent has been argued to target Spec,FocusP, a dedicated specifier position belonging to the sequence of functional projections that constitute the structural layout of the clause and that—under the cartographic approach (cf. Cinque & Rizzi, 2010)—are associated with formal features ultimately responsible for the displacement of lexical material. The simplified functional sequence of the left periphery, the so-called CP layer—as originally proposed by Rizzi (1997) and eventually refined by Benincà (2001)—is reported in (1):

(1)

The article is structured as follows. Section 2 of the article is devoted to the analysis of polar interrogatives; main polar interrogatives are examined in Section 2.1, while embedded polar interrogatives are described in Section 2.2. The properties of constituent interrogatives are investigated in Section 3: Section 3.1 describes the unmarked word order in main constituent interrogatives, Section 3.2 examines the syntactic properties of embedded constituent interrogatives, Section 3.3 presents some alternative syntactic strategies, and Section 3.4 analyzes nonstandard constituent interrogatives. Section 4 contains a summary of the article.

2. Polar Interrogatives

In polar interrogatives the speaker asks the addressee to assign a truth value to the propositional content expressed by the relevant interrogative clause.

2.1 Main Polar Interrogatives

In Romance languages the word order of main polar interrogatives may coincide with that of the corresponding declarative clause; in this case the interrogative interpretation of the utterance is triggered only by a different prosodic pattern, consisting in a rising tone toward the end of the sentence (whereas the intonational contour of the corresponding declarative ends with a lowering tone).2

Here are some examples of polar interrogatives featuring the same unmarked word order as the corresponding declarative in various Romance languages.3 Example (2) contains reported examples without an overtly realized subject, and (3) shows examples with a pronominal or a nominal subject in preverbal position:4

(2)

(3)

In main polar questions a preverbal subject is generally interpreted as the topic of the sentence, and the question is read as a request for a confirmation about the action predicated of the subject, while an unmarked interpretation of the polar question taking the whole sentence as its scope requires a postverbal occurrence of the subject, as in the following examples (cf. Cruschina, 2011):

(4)

In languages displaying subject-clitic pronouns, like French and the Northern Italian dialects, polar interrogatives may be marked by the enclisis of the subject-clitic pronoun onto the inflected verb. This process is compulsory in those Northern Italian dialects (see articles on “Italo-Romance: Venetan” (forthcoming), “Italo-Romance: Gallo-Italic,” and “Pronoun Systems in the Romance Languages” (forthcoming) in this encyclopedia), in which subject–clitic inversion has been preserved, while it is relegated to the formal register in French:5

(5)

French also features the so-called complex inversion construction, in which the nominal subject is followed by the inflected verb, onto which the pronominal subject encliticizes:

(6)

Furthermore, French displays a sort of cleft structure to the effect that the polar interrogative clause is introduced by the particle est-ce que, which is followed by the propositional content to which the addressee is asked to assign a truth value:6

(7)

In a few isolated dialects spoken in North-Eastern Lombardy, (polar) interrogatives are characterized by a ‘do support’ strategy of the English type, which features an inflected form of the verb ‘do’ followed by the infinitive of the lexical verb (cf. Benincà & Poletto, 2004):

(8)

A similar phenomenon is attested in Sienese, a Southern Tuscan variety where polar interrogatives display a sort of verbal reduplication to the effect that the lexical verb is preceded by an inflected form of the verb fare ‘do’, preceded in turn by the interrogative marker che:7

(9)

More generally, in Tuscan varieties polar interrogatives display the sentence-initial interrogative markers che and o, which can also co-occur within the same clause:

(10)

Similarly, optional interrogative markers are also found in polar interrogatives in other Central and Southern Italo-Romance varieties:

(11)

The same phenomenon is attested in some varieties of Catalan, where polar interrogatives may be introduced by the interrogative markers que and o:

(12)

In polar interrogatives, Sardinian displays an interrogative particle a that is used mainly, but not exclusively, in questions interpreted as requests, invitations, or offers:8

(13)

Root polar interrogatives optionally feature the sentence-initial lexical marker oare in Romanian:

(14)

As a matter of fact, the only variety in which the interrogative reading is codified by the obligatory occurrence of a sentential particle is Gardenese, a Rhaetoromance variety where the particle pa— resulting from the grammaticalization of a temporal adverb (cf. Hack, 2014)—has become compulsory in all standard questions (notice that the particle pa co-occurs with subject–clitic inversion):9

(15)

2.2 Embedded Polar Interrogatives

Embedded polar interrogatives (indirect yes/no questions) are invariably introduced across Romance by the interrogative complementizer si/se, and display the unmarked word order attested in declarative clauses, with the lexical subject intervening between the subordinating complementizer and the inflected verb, as in (16b) and (16c):

(16)

In Spanish, Catalan, and Galician, the interrogative complementizer si may be optionally preceded by the declarative complementizer que:10

(17)

3. Constituent Interrogatives

When uttering a constituent interrogative, the speaker expects the addressee to provide adequate and relevant information for the variable introduced by the interrogative word, the wh-item, which specifies the kind of information questioned by the speaker.

3.1 Unmarked Word Order in Main Constituent Interrogatives

In main constituent interrogatives the question word is normally moved to the sentence-initial position; however, this movement is not overtly detectable when the wh-question is on the grammatical subject of the clause, as in the following examples, where the subject coincides with the wh-phrase:11

(18)

In wh-questions in which the subject is not overtly realized the clause initial wh-item is immediately followed by the inflected verb, and may be optionally preceded by a topicalized constituent, as in (19c):12

(19)

A phonetically realized pronominal subject may appear after the inflected verb, but Caribbean Spanish behaves differently in this respect, in that the pronominal subject generally precedes the inflected verb, like in (20):13

(20)

As already mentioned above for polar interrogatives, in wh-questions French displays subject–clitic inversion in the formal register as well—as in (20)—a strategy that is in fact compulsory in the Northern Italian dialects that still preserve enclitic subject pronouns, as witnessed by (22):

(21)

(22)

The linear adjacency between the wh-item and the inflected verb is generally preserved even in the presence of a lexical subject, which appears immediately after the inflected verb, as in (23), or after the past participle in compound tenses, as in (24) (cf. Barbosa, 2001; Ordoñez, 1998; Torrego, 1984; Zubizarreta, 2001, among others):

(23)

(24)

The only exception to this generalization is represented again by colloquial French, where the wh-item can be immediately followed by the nominal (or pronominal) subject:

(25)

As in the case of polar questions discussed above, in the complex inversion construction the nominal subject immediately following the fronted wh-constituent is in turn followed by subject–clitic inversion (cf. Rizzi & Roberts, 1989):

(26)

Another structure attested in French wh-questions is the so-called stylistic inversion construction, in which the nominal subject appears exceptionally in postverbal position, following the past participle in compound tenses (cf. Kayne & Pollock, 1978, 2001; Taraldsen, 2001):

(27)

The strict adjacency between wh-item and inflected verb can be relaxed when the interrogative constituent is a complex wh-phrase, in which case the lexical subject may precede the inflected verb, at least in some Romance varieties:

(28)

As discussed by Rizzi (2001), another case in which wh-item and inflected verb do not need to be adjacent is represented by questions introduced by the wh-item corresponding to English ‘why’:

(29)

In some Northern Italian dialects, the sentence-initial wh-item can be immediately followed by the complementizer, in which case the inflected verb is generally preceded by the proclitic subject pronoun:14

(30)

3.2 Embedded Constituent Interrogatives

In embedded interrogatives the wh-item immediately follows the matrix selecting predicate, unless another constituent undergoes preposing to the embedded left periphery, as in (31b):

(31)

In subordinate contexts the position of the nominal subject is less restricted than in main contexts, as it can more easily intervene between the wh-item and the inflected verb of the embedded clause:

(32)

In French the preverbal position of the subject, as in (33a), alternates with the postverbal position attested in the stylistic inversion construction, as in (33b):

(33)

In embedded questions Northern Italian dialects display a high degree of variation with respect to the obligatoriness of the subordinating complementizer after the fronted wh-element. Some dialects do not insert any complementizer, as in (34a); other dialects require the complementizer, as in (34b); in still others the insertion of the complementizer is optional, as in (34c) (cf. Poletto & Vanelli, 1993):

(34)

As already observed above for indirect polar interrogatives, in Spanish, Catalan, and Galician, embedded wh-interrogatives may be introduced by the complementizer que followed by the wh-constituent:15

(35)

3.3 Alternative Syntactic Strategies

3.3.1 Cleft Structures

In some Romance languages wh-questions can employ a cleft structure, in which the sentence-initial wh-item is followed by the copula and the complementizer, and the rest of the clause displays the ordinary declarative word order. This strategy is particularly common in Portuguese and French, where it can be considered the default question structure:16

(36)

(37)

In Northern Italian dialects, the cleft structure is particularly frequent when the questioned constituent is the external argument:17

(38)

In the Romance languages in which cleft structures are attested in main wh-questions, they can also be found in embedded contexts:

(39)

3.3.2 Wh-In Situ

In some Romance languages there is the possibility of retaining the basic declarative word order, leaving the wh-item in sentence-internal position, a strategy currently referred to in the literature as wh-in situ; notice that the structure in which the wh-phrase appears in argumental position is interpreted as a standard wh-question; that is, as a genuine request for information.18

The following examples are from colloquial French (cf. Adli, 2006; Chang, 1997; Cheng & Rooryck, 2000; Depréz et al., 2013; Mathieu, 2004; Shlonsky, 2012, for relevant discussion), where wh-in situ is incompatible with subject–clitic inversion and both bare wh-items, as in (40a–b), and complex wh-phrases, as in (40c), may appear clause-internally:

(40)

The same strategy is currently attested in (both European and Brazilian) Portuguese (cf. Ambar, 2002 and Cheng & Rooryck, 2002 for European Portuguese; Kato, 2013 for Brazilian Portuguese):19

(41)

Furthermore, wh-in situ is robustly attested across the Northern Italian domain, with slightly different patterns across dialects and dialectal groups (cf. Munaro, 1999). In Western Lombard dialects not displaying subject–clitic inversion both bare wh-items and complex wh-phrases can easily appear in sentence-internal position:

(42)

(43)

On the contrary, in some Eastern Lombard dialects and Northern Veneto dialects, where subject–clitic inversion is still preserved, the sentence-internal occurrence tends to be limited to bare wh-items:20

(44)

Both in French and in the Northern Italian dialects, wh-in situ is generally disallowed in indirect questions, where the wh-item must be fronted to a left-peripheral position of the embedded clause. On the other hand, Portuguese allows for wh-in situ in embedded interrogatives, provided they are introduced by the interrogative complementizer se (and not by the declarative complementizer que):21

(45)

3.3.3 Wh-Doubling

Within the Romance domain, only Northern Italian dialects display cases of wh-doubling, that is doubling of the wh-item within the same simple clause, with a wh-item appearing in sentence-initial position and a second one in sentence-internal position. The following examples show that wh-doubling is not a homogeneous phenomenon; looking at the form of the sentence-initial wh-item, there are cases in which the higher doublee is clearly a clitic monosyllabic form, a weak bisyllabic form, or a strong tonic form, while a tonic form of the same wh-element appears in sentence-internal position:22

(46)

A different type of doubling is characterized by having a clitic, a weak or a strong form of the dummy wh-item corresponding to what at the beginning of the clause, and a tonic form of the questioned wh-element in sentence-internal position:23

(47)

There are some Lombard dialects in which ordinary wh-fronting, wh-in situ, and wh-doubling seem to alternate freely:

(48)

Wh-doubling is only occasionally attested in embedded questions, in which case the wh-item appearing in sentence-internal position is optional, while the fronted wh-item is a clitic form:24

(49)

3.3.4 Multiple Wh-Fronting

Many Romance languages allow for the possibility of asking multiple questions, that is, questions containing more than one wh-constituent, in which case generally only one wh-item appears in sentence-initial position, while the other surfaces in sentence-internal position, as exemplified in (50) with French, Italian, and Portuguese:25

(50)

Among the Romance languages, only Romanian displays multiple wh-fronting, that is, simultaneous movement of both wh-items to a specifier position of the left periphery, as discussed in detail by Rudin (1988):26

(51)

Multiple wh-fronting is also attested in embedded contexts, as witnessed by the following example, where the two wh-items immediately follow the matrix predicate:

(52)

3.4 Nonstandard Constituent Interrogatives

According to Obenauer (1994), interrogatives can be split into two types: standard questions, where the value of the variable is to be found inside the standard set of possible answers, and nonstandard (or special) questions, where the value of the variable is to be looked for outside the standard set. Within the class of special or nonstandard questions, we can distinguish at least the following categories, which require mandatory fronting of the wh-item even in varieties that allow for wh-in situ in standard questions.

Surprise/disapproval questions can be characterized as expressing the speaker’s (negative) attitude toward the propositional content of the utterance, and in particular toward the specific value of the variable introduced by the wh-item: Unlike in standard questions, in this case such a value is known to the speaker, who simply expresses his/her dismay or disapproval concerning the whole event (cf. Munaro & Obenauer, 2002). In Bellunese, a Northern Veneto dialect, surprise questions differ structurally from standard questions, where the wh-item appears in argumental position, as in (53a), as they require the bare wh-item in sentence-initial position, as in (53b):

(53)

The last question expresses an attitude of surprise at the choice of the invited person, the implication being that the person in question should not have been invited.

Similarly, in the following minimal pair, (54a) is interpreted as a genuine request for information, while (54b) expresses the speaker’s disgust at what the addressee is eating:27

(54)

The analysis can be extended to other types of noncanonical interrogatives (cf. Obenauer, 2004, 2006), like for example rhetorical questions, whose interpretation does not convey a request for the value of a variable, but rather entails that no appropriate value is available; the interpretation of (55b) is that the person referred to hasn’t done anything for the addressee, while in (55a) no such implication is available:28

(55)

Similarly, Obenauer (1994) notices that in French, where wh-in situ is widely attested in standard interrogatives, special questions require the mandatory fronting of the wh-item to a left-peripheral landing site, so that it will appear in sentence-initial position:

(56)

(57)

The same asymmetry in the distributional properties of wh-items between standard and nonstandard questions is attested in Portuguese, as witnessed by the following examples:

(58)

(59)

4. Conclusion

This article has provided a brief overview of the main syntactic strategies employed by Romance languages in the formation of interrogative clauses.

As with polar interrogatives, in Romance the interrogative interpretation of the utterance may be triggered only by the prosodic curve, featuring a final raising tone. While main polar interrogatives may resort to different morphosyntactic strategies, like a sentence-initial question marker or the insertion of a ‘do’ support, embedded polar interrogatives display a greater degree of uniformity and are invariably introduced by the interrogative complementizer.

As with constituent interrogatives, across Romance we find languages employing different strategies: ordinary wh-fronting to the sentence-initial position; wh-clefting, in which the sentence-initial wh-item is followed by the copula and the complementizer; wh-in situ, with the wh-item appearing in sentence-internal position; wh-doubling, with two wh-items appearing, one in initial position and the other in sentence-internal position; and multiple wh-fronting, with more than one wh-item undergoing overt wh-movement. In nonstandard questions the wh-item is obligatorily fronted to a left-peripheral position, even in the languages allowing for wh-in situ in standard questions.

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Notes

  • 1. As pointed out by Siemund (2001), so-called alternative interrogatives are frequently subsumed under polar interrogatives and are then analyzable as two (or more) coordinated polar interrogatives which have been reduced by ellipsis, as in (i):

    (i)

    Unlike polar interrogatives, alternative interrogatives have to be answered by one of the two conjuncts proposed in the question. In the present discussion this particular subtype of interrogative will not be addressed separately, as in Romance they display syntactic properties which are very similar to the ones displayed by polar interrogatives. For a comprehensive review of the strategies adopted crosslinguistically in the formation of interrogative clauses, the reader is referred to Ultan (1978).

  • 2. For a detailed analysis of the prosodic properties of polar (and constituent) interrogatives in European Portuguese, French, and Spanish, the reader is referred to Beyssade et al. (2007), Escandell-Vidal (2017), and Frota (2002), respectively.

  • 3. The numbered examples are taken from the mentioned academic source. As for the examples from Italo-Romance dialects, in the absence of specific bibliographical indications they have been extracted from ASIt, the online syntactic atlas of Italian dialects based at the University of Padua. The examples from Italian and Bellunese were provided by the author, who is a native speaker of these languages.

  • 4. As pointed out by an anonymous reviewer, in pro-drop languages without subject clitics interrogative sentences displaying the apparent assertive order are in fact structurally ambiguous, as the lexical subject in preverbal position can be left dislocated, accompanied by an inverted pro in subject position preceded by the inflected verb, as visibly happens in languages with subject clitics. If a pronominal subject is overtly realized, it may invert with the inflected verb, which then appears in sentence-initial position.

  • 5. Notice that subject–clitic inversion seems to be in complementary distribution with the sentence-initial complementizer, as clearly suggested by the following example from Piedmontese Occitan, where the first clausal member of the alternative disjunctive interrogative contains subject–clitic inversion, while the second member is introduced by the complementizer que and no subject–clitic inversion obtains:

    (i)

  • 6. Vecchiato (2000) analyzes an alternative form of polar interrogative sentence which is characteristic of Québec French and other varieties of nonstandard French (among others, the patois of Paris and Normandy), and of Franco-Provençal. It consists of an invariable interrogative marker ti or tu, which cliticizes on the tensed verb; in France the only attested form is ti, whereas Québec French prefers tu:

    (i)

    As exemplified in (ii), this interrogative strategy is marginally attested in constituent interrogatives as well:

    (ii)

    For a comprehensive overview of the diatopic and diachronic variation of the interrogative strategies in French, the reader is referred to Elsig (2009); for an analysis of the variation from a sociolinguistic perspective, see Coveney (2002).

  • 7. In Sicilian a similar pattern is attested, but in this case there is no person/tense agreement between ‘fare’ and the lexical verb:

    (i)

  • 8. On the interpretive nature of this interrogative particle, see also Mensching (2015). Furthermore, in polar questions Nuorese Sardinian optionally features the preposing of phrasal constituents, as in the following examples, where the past participle or the adjectival predicate precede the inflected verb (cf. Remberger, 2010):

    (i)

    For a detailed comparative analysis of focus fronting in polar questions in Sardinian and Romanian, the reader is referred to Giurgea and Remberger (2012, 2014); see also Motapanyane (1998) for Romanian.

  • 9. According to Rohlfs (1969), in some Northern Lombard dialects spoken in Canton Ticino polar interrogatives may be introduced by the proclitic personal pronoun a, while Calabrese dialects display the personal pronoun illu in clause initial position, as exemplified in (i) and (ii) respectively:

    (i)

    (ii)

  • 10. As discussed by Gonzalez i Planas (2014), the absence/presence of the complementizer que corresponds arguably to a de re/de dicto distinction.

  • 11. As pointed out by an anonymous reviewer, the Lombard dialect of Monno shows in fact that the interrogative clause on the subject is a CP; that is, that the wh-subject undergoes overt movement to a left-peripheral position (cf. Benincà & Poletto, 2004).

  • 12. The two elements arguably enter a spec-head agreement relation within the same functional projection, possibly in obeyance to the so-called ‘wh-criterion’, a condition on the well-formedness of interrogative clauses postulated by Rizzi (1996).

  • 13. For a relevant discussion, the reader is referred to Ordoñez and Olarrea (2006), who argue that the lack of inversion effects in these varieties only occurs with pronominal elements.

  • 14. Notice, however, that in some exceptional cases subject–clitic inversion may obtain after the complementizer, as in the following example:

    (i)

    As pointed out by Poletto (2000), the following minimal pair attested in Fassano, a Rhaetoromance variety, clearly shows that subject–clitic inversion must be related to the raising of the inflected verb to a specific structural slot of the left periphery, situated in this particular case at the left of the interrogative particle pa:

    (ii)

  • 15. Notice that a topicalized constituent can intervene between the subordinating complementizer que and the wh-item:

    (i)

    As discussed by Rigau and Suïls (2010), a similar phenomenon is attested in indirect wh-questions in some nonstandard Catalan and Occitan varieties spoken in the Pyrenees, which feature the particle/complementizer se preceding the wh-phrase.

  • 16. In French when the wh-item coincides with the subject, the complementizer surfaces in the form qui, as exemplified in (i); as witnessed by (ii), the same phenomenon is attested in embedded cleft structures:

    (i)

    (ii)

  • 17. In some varieties the complementizer can appear both before and after the inflected copula:

    (i)

    In many other dialects the clause initial wh-item can co-occur with the inflected copula (onto which the subject pronoun encliticizes), followed in turn by the complementizer:

    (ii)

  • 18. We abstract away here from the crosslinguistically available possibility of leaving the wh-item in its underlying position in ‘echo questions’, in which the speaker is not asking for the identification of the value of the variable introduced by the wh-element, but invites the addressee to repeat the overheard relevant information, or simply emphatically expresses their surprise at the propositional content provided by the addressee. As mentioned above, such a possibility is more generally available across the Romance languages:

    (i)

  • 19. Wh-in situ is also attested in Spanish, but in this case there seem to be more severe contextual restrictions; in particular, when the wh-element appears in sentence-internal position we have a different presupposition in the sense that the value of the variable is taken from a restricted set, which correlates with the fact that ‘in situ’ questions in Spanish usually require a specific type of context to be felicitous:

    (i)

    Some scholars have proposed an analysis according to which Spanish in situ questions involve overt movement of the wh-element to the specifier of a functional projection in the left periphery, followed by remnant movement of the residual clausal material to a higher left-peripheral landing site (cf. Etxepare & Uribe-Etxebarria, 2005; Uribe-Etxebarria, 2002). The same formal analysis has been proposed for wh-in situ questions in some North-Eastern Italian dialects (cf. Munaro et al., 2001).

  • 20. Complex wh-phrases are instead obligatorily fronted to the sentence-initial position:

    (i)

    Notice the use of the ‘fa’ support in wh-questions as well. In the dialects which allow for wh-in situ, the wh-question on the subject of transitive and unergative verbs is formed with a cleft structure where the copula is followed by the wh-item, followed in turn by the complementizer:

    (ii)

    For a comparative analysis of these cleft structures and those attested in French, the reader is referred to Munaro and Pollock (2005).

  • 21. However, even in the presence of the complementizer se it is not possible to leave in situ the wh-item quem questioning the subject:

    (i)

  • 22. The reader is referred to Benincà and Poletto (2005) for some descriptive generalizations on the implicational relations between clitic wh-doubling and wh-in situ in the Northern Italian dialects.

  • 23. As shown by Poletto and Pollock (2009) wh-elements like cusa/cuma/indua cannot be realized in isolation, in contrast to wh-elements like cusè/cumè/induè, which suggests that the former are weak while the latter are strong, according to the current taxonomic tripartition distinguishing between clitic, weak, and strong items of lexical categories.

  • 24. The fronted wh-item is generally incompatible with the subordinating complementizer che; the only exception to this generalization is represented by constructions where the item combined with the complementizer is not a genuine wh-item but derives from the distal demonstrative (as argued in Munaro, 1999):

    (i)

  • 25. Notice however that French has the possibility of leaving in situ both wh-items:

    (i)

  • 26. On multiple wh-movement in Romanian, see also Comorovski (1986). For a detailed analysis of the relation between wh-movement, quantification, and clitic doubling in Romanian, the reader is referred to Dobrovie-Sorin (1990).

  • 27. Beside the argumental usage, in Bellunese cossa may also be used in surprise questions nonargumentally, with a meaning very close to ‘why’ in sentences in which the speaker expresses their surprise, dismay, or annoyance with respect to the relevant event:

    (i)

    This semantic widening of the wh-item corresponding to English ‘what’ is attested crosslinguistically, as discussed by Munaro and Obenauer (2002). According to Obenauer (2004), in Bellunese special questions, the sentence initial wh-operator cossa is first merged in a higher left-peripheral position and is combined with ‘normal’ cases of wh-in situ, that is, cases of null clitic wh-doubling, along the lines of Poletto and Pollock (2004).

  • 28. The third class of nonstandard questions analyzed by Obenauer are so-called “I can’t find the value of x” questions, where the speaker expresses the fact that despite their attempt to do so, they are unable to come up with a plausible or acceptable value of the questioned variable (a slightly different interpretation of the same question type is that of a self-addressed question):

    (i)