Two types of why in syntax: Evidence from Why-stripping in Persian
This talk is an attempt to get audience feedback on my work in progress and prepare for my presentation at “Sluicing and Ellipsis at 50”, which will be held at the University of Chicago in April.
In this work, I provide an account of why-stripping in Persian (1), in which there is a wh-phrase cherā ‘why’ and a non-wh-phrase remnant (e.g. chips).This structure looks similar to sluicing with why, as in (2), in which there is only a wh-phrase remnant cherā ‘why’. The question is whether why in these constructions has the same/different properties. I argue that why in these constructions has distinct properties and the mechanism of deriving these sentences is different.
(1) Ayda chips khord, vali ne-midoon-am cherā CHIPS
Ayda chips ate.3sg but neg-know-1sg why chips
‘Ayda ate chips but I don’t know why chips (but not something else).’
(2) Ayda chips khord, vali ne-midoon-am cherā
Ayda chips ate.3sg but neg-know-1sg why
‘Ayda ate chips but I don’t know why.
I propose that in why-stripping (1), why functions as ‘how come’ and is base-generated in the Spec of Int(errogative)P (Rizzi 2001), in the left periphery. On the other hand, in sluicing (2), why functions as a regular wh-phrase in wh-questions and is focus fronted to the Spec of FocP, prior to TP ellipsis.
I discuss cross-linguistic generalizations and the predictions we can make regarding the positions in which why can be base-generated across languages.