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Focus feature percolation: Evidence from Tundra Nenets and Tundra Yukaghir

Matic, D., & Nikolaeva, I. (2014). Focus feature percolation: Evidence from Tundra Nenets and Tundra Yukaghir. In S. Müller (Ed.), Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG 2014) (pp. 299-317). Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications.
Two Siberian languages, Tundra Nenets and Tundra Yukaghir, do not obey strong island constraints in questioning: any sub-constituent of a relative or adverbial clause can be questioned. We argue that this has to do with how focusing works in these languages. The focused sub-constituent remains in situ, but there is abundant morphosyntactic evidence that the focus feature is passed up to the head of the clause. The result is the formation of a complex focus structure in which both the head and non head daughter are overtly marked as focus, and they are interpreted as a pairwise list such that the focus background is applicable to this list, but not to other alternative lists
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