Aside from their canonical interrogative use, wh-words are used in many languages to build a range of quantificational expressions. What syntactic and semantic strategies are employed to quantify over the alternatives introduced by wh-words? To answer this question, Hadas Kotek and I have recently looked at a number of non-interrogative wh-constructions, in Chuj (Mayan), Dharamsala Tibetan, and English.
We have investigated bare wh-indefinites and free relatives in Chuj, an understudied Mayan language of Guatemala. We show that indefinite free relatives in Chuj are equivalent in size to definite free relatives, as proposed by Caponigro (2003), contrary to a conjecture by Šimík (2011) that indefinite free relatives are always reduced clauses.
- Kotek and Erlewine, to appear. “Non-interrogative wh-constructions in Chuj (Mayan).” In Proceedings of the Workshop on the Structure and Constituency of the Languages of the Americas (WSCLA) 21.
- Kotek and Erlewine, 2016. “Unifying definite and indefinite free relatives: Evidence from Mayan.” In Proceedings of NELS 46, pages 241–254.
We also investigate wh-even NPIs in Dharamsala Tibetan. We present a new compositional syntax/semantics for wh-even NPIs, improving upon previous analyses such as Ramchand (1996), with implications for the analysis of ‘even.’ Our analysis uses both the scalar and additive meanings introduced by ‘even,’ and crucially computes these two meanings with different scopes. I am exploring an extention of this account to the behavior of wh-even NPIs in Japanese and other languages.
- Erlewine and Kotek, 2016. “Even-NPIs in Dharamsala Tibetan.” In Linguistic Analysis 40, pages 129–165.
In other work, we have investigated the syntax and semantics of wh-words used as relative pronouns. Using the intervention effect diagnostics which we pioneered, we show that relative pronouns in English non-restrictive relatives are interpreted in-situ within their pied-piping constituents via focus alternative computation. We show that this supports the view that non-restrictive relatives are proposition-denoting, rather than property-denoting.
- Erlewine and Kotek, 2016. “The structure and interpretation of non-restrictive relatives: Evidence from relative pronoun pied-piping.” In Proceedings of the 51st Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society (CLS 51), pages 149–163.
- Kotek and Erlewine, 2016. “Intervention effects in relative pronoun pied-piping: experimental evidence.” In Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 20, pages 448–461.
- Kotek and Erlewine, 2015. “Relative pronoun pied-piping in English non-restrictive relatives.” Manuscript, National University of Singapore and McGill University.