P4 Description

This project proposes to take a fresh look at questions in Urdu/Hindi by taking into account information-structural considerations as well as intonational/prosodic information in addition to building on what is known about the morphosyntactic structure of questions in Urdu/Hindi. The project will focus on understanding interface issues with respect to non-canonical questions, i.e., on understanding how a given meaning is brought about compositionally via the interaction of several different components of grammar: prosodic phonology, morphology and syntax. The empirical phenomena to be studied involve: 1) varying word orders of wh-elements; 2) the use of a question particle in polar (yes/no) questions; 3) the use of question tags; 4) alternative questions; 5) questions in interaction with embedded clauses. The focus of the project will lie on the first two phenomena. However, as a review of the state-of-the-art so far shows, the phenomena are all so closely intertwined as to make it impossible to disregard one or the other completely. In particular, the wh-word kya plays multiple roles: it can function as a normal wh-word meaning “what”, a scope- marker for the expression of question scope with respect to wh-words found in embedded clauses, or as a question marker in polar questions.Most of the work on questions in Hindi/Urdu has so far concentrated on information-seeking questions (ISQ), with the bulk of that work on the structure of ISQ wh-questions and their interaction with the so-called scope marking construction, which involves the scope marking variant of kya “what”. Within the last ten years, work on alternative and polar questions has also begun to emerge. Although information structure is often mentioned as being relevant in the work on Urdu/Hindi questions to data, no published work to date has focused on understanding this interaction properly, especially with respect to how non-information seeking readings such as echo questions, expressions of surprise or rhetorical questions are arrived at. In addition, most of the work to date has focused on the initial part of a clause (left periphery). In contrast, this project proposes to focus on word order variation with respect to the postverbal domain (right periphery), seeking to understand how the semantic and pragmatic meaning of different types of non-canonical readings of questions is arrived at via the interaction of syntax (primarily word order variation), morphology and prosody.