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WH-duplication in Italian Sign Language (LIS)

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Abstract

This paper focuses on those WH-questions in Italian Sign Language (LIS) featuring two lexically identical WH-signs. We show that WH1 (the first WH in linear order) is shorter than WH2 (the second WH in liner order). However, there is evidence that this different duration is due to a phrase final lengthening, as WH2 occupies a sentence-final position. We therefore conclude that the two WH-signs are identical full copies: one sitting in Spec,CP on the right in LIS and the other one sitting in Spec,FocusP on the left. We show that this construction yields a (focused) cleft question interpretation and we speculate that both copies are phonologically realized because the WH-signs in Spec,CP and Spec,FocusP are the heads of two distinct chains. Finally, we distinguish identical WH-duplication from <i>improper</i> WH-duplication, namely cases where one of the two WH-elements is what we call Qartichoke, an underspecified interrogative sign only surfacing in WH-questions.

References

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