EXPLORING WH-QUESTIONS IN GOKANA: A PRINCIPLES AND PARAMETERS APPROACH

Published: JUNE 2021

Author(s):

BARIDISI HOPE ISAAC

About Author(s):

University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria

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Abstract

WH-Parameter is a major parameter that defines the setting of switches in Universal Grammar. This paper seeks to provide a principled analysis of the syntactic structure and thematic features of WH-questions in Gokana with insights from Principles and Parameters Theory. The paper claims that although base-generated and fronted WH-questions occur in Gokana; the parametric variation attested for the language in terms of switches in Universal Grammar for WH-question formation is that Gokana belongs to languages where WH-phrases remain in their base-generated position. The study shows that the movement of the WH-phrase to the left-most periphery of the clause at S-structure in Gokana is triggered by the thematic features of focus marking. The paper argued that any construction with a fronted WH-phrase in Gokana does not only function as a question but it is also a focus construction since the fronting is a direct response to focus summon. The study also claims that there is no vacuous movement in the fronting of a WH-phrase in SPEC-I’ position and observes that every WH-phrase in any structural position within the minimal clause can either be fronted to achieve emphasis or left in its base-generated position in the formation of WH-questions in Gokana.

 

Keywords: Gokana, WH-Questions, In-Situ, Base-Generated, Left-Periphery, Fronting, Principles And Parameters, Thematic Features, Subjacency.