What i-f?

Ievgeniia Kybalchych


This paper argues that the English interrogative complementizer if , traditionally taken to be atomic, is actually bimorphemic, with f- a wh-morpheme, and i- the default finite stem-allomorph of BE, also present in ‘is’. Similar to the German complementizer dass, composed of two separate syntactic heads, d- and -ass (Leu, 2015), where d- competes with the finite verb movement to the V2 position, English if is composed of i- (marked [+finite]), and –f ([+wh]) being heads in the CP domain (akin to Rizzi’s (1997) Fin and Force). Thus, the bimorphemic structure of if partly explains its two special properties: its restriction to finite clauses and its seemingly introducing embedded interrogatives without a wh-morpheme. According to my analysis, the former is correlated with the form of the complementizer and the latter just disappears. Data from the bimorphemic complementizers structure in Slavic languages (Czech and Russian) supports this analysis.


If; Complementizer; Bimorphemic; Interrogative; Embedded; Slavic; Finite; Wh-morpheme; Wh-words

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Copyright (c) 2016 Ievgeniia Kybalchych