Crosslinguistic study on intervention effects

Sigrid Beck (University of Konstanz)

The talk presents fieldwork on intervention effects in five unrelated languages (Palestinian Arabic, Russian, Samoan, Turkish, Yoruba) by Howell et al (2019). While the grammar of focus and the grammar of questions differ substantially across these five languages, there is also significant uniformity: In all five languages, intervening focus evaluation blocks the evaluation of question alternatives. In none of the five languages does intervening question formation block the evaluation of focus or question alternatives. These results invite hypotheses of non-variation in the grammar of focus evaluation and question semantics, concretely unselectivity of focus evaluating ~ and selectivity of the Q operator.