Sign Language Syntax from a Formal Perspective: Selected Papers from the 2012 Warsaw FEAST
  • ISSN 1387-9316
  • E-ISSN: 1569-996X
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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,FocP 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,FocP are the heads of two distinct chains. Finally, we distinguish identical wh-duplication from improper 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.


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