Turkish interrogatives at the interfaces


July 2012 – June 2015


Funded by the DFG (German Science Foundation)

Located at ZAS (Centre for General Linguistics) in Berlin



PI: Hubert Truckenbrodt

Researcher: Beste Kamali


Summary of planned research


Four larger studies are to lead to a comprehensive picture of the prosody, phonetics, syntax, and semantics of Turkish questions, and to a range of contributions to the cross-linguistic literature on the interfaces that are involved.

1. Turkish wh-in-situ ('Ali WHAT ate?') attracts sentence stress, unlike moved wh-words in English and German ('What did Ali EAT?') Studying the difference in controlled contexts allows us to investigate this effect relative to the effects of given, new, and focused elements.

2. Descriptions of Turkish intonation involve stress-retraction to the wh-word, a final rise in wh-questions, and an initial plateau. A phonetic study establishes the existence and crucial phonological/phonetic details of these.

3. Untypical questions (rhetorical, echo, etc.) show untypical combinations of wh-words, the question marker -mI, and the intonational markers. They are crucial to establishing the meanings of these elements.

4. -mI suffixes to each alternative in alternative questions ('JOHN-mI or BILL-mI dinner cooked?'). Turkish yes/no-questions allow a 'single alternative' version of this ('JOHN-mI dinner cooked?'). This allows us to address open issues in the cross-linguistic literature on alternative questions.