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Linguistic Inquiry

Winter 2006, Vol. 37, No. 1, Pages 51-68
(doi: 10.1162/002438906775321139)
© 2006 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Amnestying Superiority Violations: Processing Multiple Questions
Article PDF (86.88 KB)
Abstract

Two experiments investigated the acceptability of multiple questions. As expected, sentences violating the Superiority Condition were accepted less often than sentences obeying it.The status of the Superiority violations was not improved by the addition of a third wh, regardless of whether the third wh was an adjunct or an argument, though it was improved by the addition of a second question (e.g., and when).Further, in a small pilot study directly comparing a sentence with adjacent final wh-phrases that may induce a stress clash (I'd like to know who hid it where when) with a sentence violating Superiority but avoiding the final adjacent wh-phrases (I'd like to know where who hid it when), half the participants indicated that the Superiority violation sentence sounded better.This suggests that the status of some additional-whsentences may appear to improve simply because the comparison sentence with adjacent final wh-phrases is degraded.Overall, the results of the studies suggest that there is no need to complicate syntactic theory to account for the additional-wh effect, because there is no general additional-wh effect.