Questions and syntactic islands in Tundra Yukaghir

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No island effects are observable in Tundra Yukaghir questions, which are possible in virtually all syntactic environments. It is argued that this feature of Tundra Yukaghir relates to its capability of explicitly marking focus domains. If a question word occurs in a syntactic island, the whole island is morphologically treated as a focus domain. In order to take scope and function as question markers, question words must remain within the focus domain, i.e. in the island clause. This syntactic configuration is reflected in the semantics of question islands, which are used to inquire about the identity of the whole island, not merely the denotation of the question word. Keywords: Tundra Yukaghir; content question; syntactic island; focus


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