Interfacing information and prosody: French wh-in-situ questions

Viviane Déprez, Kristen Syrett, Shigeto Kawahara

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

5 Scopus citations


We present experimental evidence bearing on Cheng and Rooryck's (2000) proposal that French wh-in-situ questions are licensed by an intonational morpheme also present in yes-no questions and their claim that such questions are ungrammatical without a rising contour. While most participants produced a rising contour, not all did; when they did, the slope was not as steep as in yes-no questions. Our findings support C&R's proposal, admitting the central role of information structure. We support a view of question formation in French in which information structure, syntax, and prosody form a tight relationship: the shape of the syntactically-designated contour is affected by pragmatic information. We present a theoretical account appealing to movement through givenness-marking that explains the observed pitch compression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRomance Languages and Linguistic Theory 2010. Selected papers from �Going Romance� Leiden 2010
EditorsIrene Franco, Sara Lusini, Andres Saab
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9789027272478
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameRomance Languages and Linguistic Theory
ISSN (Print)1574-552X

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics


  • French interrogatives
  • Givenness
  • Information structure
  • Prosody
  • Wh-questions


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