The syntax of Why-Stripping

Masaya Yoshida*, Chizuru Nakao, Iván Ortega-Santos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This study investigates a clausal ellipsis construction involving the adverbial wh-phrase why and a non-wh-remnant, hereafter Why-Stripping. We show that Why-Stripping exhibits movement properties such as connectivity effects in the same way as Sluicing (with argument wh-phrases) and Stripping, and claim that Why-Stripping involves movement of the focused phrase (e.g. Mary) followed by clausal ellipsis. Furthermore, based on the fact that Why-Stripping does not show strict locality restrictions, unlike Sluicing with why, we claim that why in Why-Stripping is base-generated in the Spec_CP position while Sluicing with why involves adjunct wh-movement. According to this view, there are two types of why: one that moves and the other that does not move. It is shown that the latter induces focus association and participates in Why-Stripping. Thus, the investigation of Why-Stripping contributes to revealing the nature of the syntax of why itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-370
Number of pages48
JournalNatural Language and Linguistic Theory
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Connectivity effects
  • Ellipsis
  • How come
  • Sluicing
  • Stripping
  • Why

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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