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Linguistic Inquiry

Fall 2016, Vol. 47, No. 4, Pages 669-693
(doi: 10.1162/LING_a_00226)
© 2016 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Covert Pied-Piping in English Multiple Wh-Questions
Article PDF (872.66 KB)

In this article, we argue for the existence of covert pied-piping in wh-questions through a previously unnoticed pattern of intervention effects in Superiority-obeying English multiple wh-questions. We show that the preference of covert pied-piping, unlike that of overt pied-piping, is for movement of larger constituents. We argue that this discrepancy stems from conflicting requirements of PF and LF: overt pied-piping feeds both LF and PF, but covert pied-piping feeds LF only. The study of covert pied-piping thus reveals the true preference of LF and narrow syntax with regard to pied-piping: larger pied-piping constituents are preferred over smaller ones. This preference can be overridden by certain PF constraints that apply to overt pied-piping.