Sunday, October 11, 2009

Wh-question in Indian Sign Language

Indian Sign Language (henceforth, ISL) wh-questions are strictly clause-final. An ISL wh-question is a composite sign consisting of a noun and a sign generally labeled as wh-sign/particle in association with an expression, which I label as C-particle. An ISL wh-question thus consists of a noun, C-particle and an expression. Of these, the noun can be dropped in the context where the meaning of the wh-question is recoverable. This shows that the C-particle and the expression suffice to form a wh-question.
The C-particle is primarily a double handed symmetric sign, and often undergoes Weak Drop resulting in a one handed sign. The suppletive form of the C-particle is seen in diurnal WHEN, which differs from other wh-questions in its manual articulation as well as in the expression.
Aboh, et al. (2005) claim that ISL (their IndSL) is a verb-final language with split-wh. Their claim for split-wh is based on composite phrasal expressions like PLACE + G-WH for ‘where’ (G-WH stands for general wh-). Following Neidle et al. (2000), they assume that ISL non-manual wh-marking is associated with [+wh] feature in C. They suggest that G-WH is a question particle in ISL that always appears in the clause final position, either with an associate phrase, or on its own (bare), with the associated phrase remaining in-situ.
The basic expression associated with interrogative is the relative chin up from the immediate sign. It is also observed in yes/no questions, and serves to distinguish interrogative from declaratives.
Aboh, et al. argue against a remnant movement for ISLwh-questions, by which the derivation of the surface order for a sentence with a wh-object requires additional remnant movement of entire IP to a specifier position above CP, citing a variety of problems with this Kaynean approach (for details, see Aboh et al. 2005), Instead, they assume a head-final split-C (Rizzi 1997) and claim that the question particle is realised as the head of the InterP between ForceP and FinP and [Spec, InterP] hosts a null OP [wh]. They further conclude that the wh-element moves to [Spec, InterP] at LF to be interpretable. In the case of split-WH, they argue that the sign PLACE surfaces in the [Spec, FocP] below InterP.
Adopting their proposal, the following structure for the clausal domain emerges. The C- and the Q- particles are the head of ForceP and InterP, respectively. Following Aboh et al. (2005), it is assumed that a noun is optionally merged to the [Spec, FocP].

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