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.

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.

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.

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