Yes-no question formation in Igbo: The phono-syntax interface

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West African Linguistic Society


The low tone on Igbo pronouns has been argued to be used to initiate yes-no questions. This paper describes the derivation of this low tone. The paper argues that the low tone on singular subject pronoun in Igbo yes-no questions is a relic of the question particle a found in the plural counterpart. With yes-no questions involving singular subject DP, the question particle a is not found, but the low tone on the question particle re-links to the preceding subject pronoun in the singular. This interrogative tone that is retained forces the high tone on the preceding subject pronoun to be deleted and takes over by being the tone on the pronoun on the singular subject DP. It is discovered that the Igbo interrogative head attracts clitic pronouns. Following Rizzi (1997; 2001) and Aboh (2004; 2010) analyses of the C-system, it is argued that the question particle a is being hosted by the interrogative force that is associated with the Into which is the head of the IntP.



questions, tone, Igbo, pronouns, complementiser


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