Linguistic Variation Yearbook 2001
  • ISSN 1568-1483
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9900
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This article offers a comparative syntax approach to wh-questions in French and Bellunese, a Northern Italian dialect spoken in the town of Belluno. A striking difference between the two languages, otherwise very closely related, lies in the fact that bare wh-words in root questions, which display obligatory subject clitic inversion (SCLI), must appear at the right edge of the sentence in Bellunese. In French on the other hand apparent in situ structures ban SCLI and do not accept que in sharp contrast with Bellunese. To make sense of these data we suggest that despite appearances wh-words in Bellunese do move to the left periphery, just as they must in French SCLI structures. This in turn requires that the remaining IP also move to the left periphery which should then be “highly split”. The minimal parameter distinguishing French and Bellunese, we claim, lies in the existence of a class of non assertive clitics in Bellunese, which have turned into interrogative markers. Their absence in French triggers obligatory wh-movement to a high operator position at the left edge of the CP domain. In this light it is suggested that French wh in situ questions also involves invisible remnant IP movement and wh movement to a truncated left periphery.


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