Interrogative slifting in English

Bill Haddican, Anders Holmberg, Hidekazu Tanaka, George Tsoulas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This paper analyzes English ". wh-slifting" sentences (for example, How old is she do you think). We argue that these sentences are not scope-marking constructions nor are they derived by simple clausal pied-piping as an alternative to wh-extraction. We show that such sentences are akin to declarative slifting sentences, but more restricted than the latter particularly in the kinds of evidential predicates they co-occur with. We argue that the slifted question is not first merged as the complement of the main clause, but that the relationship between the two clauses is mediated by an evidential morpheme, which takes the do you think-clause as its specifier. This analysis, which explains several properties of wh-slifting that distinguish it from scope-marking constructions and Basque-type clausal pied-piping, partially reconciles wh-slifting questions with paratactic approaches to quotative constructions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-106
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Embedded root phenomena
  • Evidential
  • Parenthetical
  • Pied-piping
  • Scope marking
  • Slifting
  • Wh-movement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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