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Interrogative Sentences (Questions) Ed McCorduck English 402--Grammar SUNY Cortland

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Presentation on theme: "Interrogative Sentences (Questions) Ed McCorduck English 402--Grammar SUNY Cortland"— Presentation transcript:

1 Interrogative Sentences (Questions) Ed McCorduck English 402--Grammar SUNY Cortland

2 There are two types of interrogative sentences, a.k.a. questions, in English: slide 2: two types of interrogative sentences/questions English 402: Grammar

3 yes/no questions o could be answered with just a "yes” or “no” slide 3: yes/no questions English 402: Grammar

4 o are formed from declarative sentences through the inversion transformation (see “The Inversion Transformation” lecture) if there is an “aux” (i.e., if the conditions for the application of this transformation are met; see slide 2 of “The Passive Voice” lecture) slide 4: formation of yes/no questions English 402: Grammar

5 exx The governor will resign. ⇒ Will the governor resign? subj aux MV aux subj MV - - No (, he won’t). The Day of Judgment has come. subj aux MV ⇒ Has the Day of Judgment come? aux subj MV - - Yes (, it has). slide 5: examples of applying the inversion transformation to form yes/no questions English 402: Grammar

6 She was being a nuisance. subj aux MV ⇒ Was she being a nuisance? aux subj MV - - No (, she wasn’t). The bulls are let loose at noon. subj aux MV ⇒ Are the bulls let loose at noon? aux subj MV - - Yes (, they are). slide 6: more examples of applying the inversion transformation to form yes/no questions English 402: Grammar

7  if there is no aux and the main verb (MV) is be, be is transposed with the subject: Are you all morons? (cf. You are all morons.) - - Yes (, we are). Was Frobisher hairy? (cf. Frobisher was hairy.) - - No (, he wasn’t). slide 7: transposition of subj and MV be in yes/no questions English 402: Grammar

8 wh-questions (a.k.a. information questions) o include a “wh-word,” i.e., who(m), what, where, which, why, whose, how o must be answered with information, not just a simple “yes” or “no” slide 8: wh-questions English 402: Grammar

9 o are formed from declarative sentences through the fronting of the non-subject wh-word the inversion transformation if there is an “aux” AND if the wh-word is not the subject slide 9: formation of wh-questions English 402: Grammar

10 We assume that in the underlying or “deep” structure of questions, the wh-word occurs in the slot the normal occupant of which we wish to ask about in the question. For example, we might posit that the underlying structure of the question What will Joubert do? is something like Joubert could do what? dir obj (cf. Joubert could do parlor tricks.) dir obj slide 10: fundamental assumption about the underlying structure of wh-questions English 402: Grammar

11 Support for such an analysis of the deep structure of questions comes from the fact that these resemble surface structures that are called echo questions, i.e., restatements of a sentence with an unheard, unfamiliar or unbelieved element replaced by a wh-word, e.g., A: Joubert could do parlor tricks. B: Joubert could do what? Speak up, Sonny, my hearing aid’s off. or B: Joubert could do what? What the hell are those? slide 11: the relation between wh-questions and echo questions English 402: Grammar

12 Here then is the derivation of the wh-question What could Joubert do?: underlying structure: Joubert could do what ⇒ application of fronting: what Joubert could do ⇒ application of inversion transformation: What could Joubert do? slide 12: example of the full derivation of a wh-question English 402: Grammar

13 Here is another wh-question derivation, this time of question Where is that maniac going? (where where replaces an adverbial, cf. That maniac is going into oncoming traffic): underlying structure: that maniac is going where ⇒ application of fronting: where that maniac is going ⇒ application of inversion transformation: Where is that maniac going? aux slide 13: another example of the full derivation of a wh-question English 402: Grammar

14 But notice that if the wh-word occurs in the subject position in the “deep structure” of a sentence, there is no need for any fronting—since the subject is normally the first slot in a sentence—and the inversion transformation will not apply (cf. slide 9 above): slide 14: wh-questions where there is no fronting nor inversion English 402: Grammar

15 deep: what made him rich (cf. Kickbacks made him rich. ) subj surface: What made him rich? deep: who has made him rich (cf. His heiress wife has made him rich. ) subj aux surface: Who has made him rich? subj aux slide 15: wh-questions where the question word is the subject English 402: Grammar

16 slide 16: Reed-Kellogg diagrams of interrogatives English 402: Grammar In Reed-Kellogg diagrams, interrogatives are diagrammed like the underlying structure of the corresponding declarative sentences, i.e., where the inversion transformation is not shown as having applied yet, except that the first letter of the aux is capitalized as it is in the standard written form of the question. For comparison, here is the Reed-Kellogg diagram of the declarative sentence The governor will resign:

17 slide 17: Reed-Kellogg diagram of a declarative sentence with an aux English 402: Grammar

18 slide 18: Reed-Kellogg diagram of a yes/no question with an aux English 402: Grammar And here is the Reed-Kellogg diagram of the corresponding yes/no question Will the governor resign?:

19 slide 19: Reed-Kellogg diagram of a wh-question with wh-word as subj English 402: Grammar Similarly, for a wh-question with the wh-word in subject position, the Reed-Kellogg diagram of the question is drawn with wh-word capitalized as it is in writing. For example, here is the diagram of the question Who made you king?:

20 slide 20: Reed-Kellogg diagrams of other wh-questions English 402: Grammar For other wh-questions, however, where both the inversion transformation applies and the wh-word is not the subject, the Reed-Kellogg diagram shows the wh-word in the slot for the questioned, unknown element and with its first letter capitalized and the inversion transformation is shown as having not yet applied. For comparison, here is the diagram of the declarative sentence Joubert could do somersaults:

21 slide 21: Reed-Kellogg diagram of another declarative sentence with an aux English 402: Grammar

22 slide 22: Reed-Kellogg diagram of a wh-question with an aux and a dir obj wh-word English 402: Grammar And here is the Reed-Kellogg diagram of the question What could Joubert do? with What in the direct object slot (and with the aux could still in its normal position before the MV do):


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