The Korean Association for the Study of English Language and Linguistics

Korean Journal of English Language and Linguistics - Vol. 19 , No. 4

[ Article ]
Korea Journal of English Language and Linguistics - Vol. 19, No. 4, pp. 644-667
Abbreviation: KASELL
ISSN: 1598-1398 (Print)
Print publication date 31 Dec 2019
Received 26 Nov 2019 Revised 21 Dec 2019 Accepted 31 Dec 2019

A Semantic Account of Matrix Scope of a wh-phrase in a wh-island in Korean and English
Hae-Kyung Wee
Dankook University

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This study investigates possibility of matrix scope interpretation of a wh-phrase occurring in a wh-island clause, with two types of predicates in Korean, i.e., alta ‘know’ and kwungkumhata ‘wonder’, in comparison to its English counterpart where a wh-phrase is extracted from a wh-island. It is shown that i) in the out-of-the-blue context, alta does not readily allow matrix scope of an embedded wh-phrase in Korean whereas know allows extraction of a wh-phrase out of the embedded wh-clause in English, but in a proper context, Korean also allows a wh-phrase to have the matrix scope interpretation just like English, ii) different acceptabilities of the interrogatives with a degree wh-phrase occurring in a wh-island with these two verbs in Korean can be accounted for by the semantic analysis proposed for English by Abrusan (2014), which is based on different satisfactions of exhaustifiability conditions resulting from different semantic properties of the two verbs, and iii) due to different semantic and presuppositional properties of know and wonder, know more strictly prohibits a wh-phrase from having the matrix scope out of an embedded wh-clause than wonder not only for degree wh-phrases but also for non-degree wh-phrases.

Keywords: wh-island, scope ambiguity, scope of wh-phrase, strong exhaustivity, responsive verb, rogative verb, semantics of embedded question, degree wh-question


This work was supported by Global Research Network program through the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-Project number).(NRF-2019S1A2A2031915)

I am grateful to Myung-Kwan Park for initiating research on the scope ambiguities of wh-island-internal wh-phrases occurring in Korean Kyengsang dialects with different types of question embedding predicates and suggesting possble approaches for this issue. I also appreciate valuable comments of the reviewers. All errors and fallacies are of course my own.

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Hae-Kyung WeeProfessor, Dankook UniversityEmail: