Wh-questions in Kitharaka


  • Peter Kinyua Muriungi


Kitharaka, questions, focus, wh-movement


This paper explores question formation in Kitharaka (E54; Bantu; Kenyan) within the crosslinguistic approach developed in Sabel (2000, 2002, 2003). According to Sabel, variation in the positioning of wh-phrases in languages can be explained if it is assumed that wh-movement is universally triggered by [+wh] and [+focus] features, both of which are [+interpretable] and can be specified as [±strong]. For Kitharaka, I argue that wh-movement is triggered by a strong [+focus] feature in a functional head (Foc). The strong [+focus] feature on a focus head is morphologically manifested by a focus marker which attaches to a fronted wh-phrase, and in case of long wh-movement, by the focus markers that may appear on embedded clauses crossed by overt wh-movement. Wh-in situ occurs when no strong [+focus] features are introduced in the syntax (Muriungi 2003,2004).