<i>Wh</i>-clefts and verb-initial word order in Austronesian languages

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<i>Wh</i>-questions are formed on clefts in many Austronesian languages, a fact which is generally assumed to be related to their verb-initial basic word order. What is less clear is the precise relationship between verb-initial word order and the cleft strategy for questions. This paper proposes that the derivation of clefts is parallel to the derivation of basic word order in VOS languages. The absolutive DP is analyzed as a topic and moves to the left periphery of the clause. Following this, the remnant clause is fronted to a higher focus position. I further show how this parallelism accounts for certain distinguishing characteristics of clefts in Austronesian languages. Keywords: Cleft; wh-question; verb-initial word order; predicate-fronting; Austronesian


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