Constituent Order in German Multiple Questions: Normal Order and (Apparent) Anti-Superiority Effects

Gisbert Fanselow, Jana Haeussler, Thomas Weskott

Full Text: PDF   Paper Package: FanselowHaeusslerWeskott2014_1.0 tar.gz PID: 11022/0000-0000-1F93-8


In many languages of the world, in particular those with a clause-final positioning of the verb, the order of the constituents of a clause is fairly free. Nevertheless, clauses have an “unmarked” or “normal” arrangement of their constituents in most of these free constituent order languages – polysynthetic languages such as Mohawk are a notable exception (Baker, 1996).

The present paper is concerned with the factors that determine whether a given constituent order is unmarked or not. In particular, we report a series of judgment experiments concerned with constituent order preferences in German multiple questions. Their results show that multiple questions are a further, hitherto unknown, argument for the claim that normal order is not just determined by (semantic) role but also by cast: normal word order for wh-phrases differs from normal word order in simple declaratives. We will offer an attempt of an explanation for this difference in terms of a hierarchy of Case assigning heads in the final section of the paper.