MICROPARAMETRIC SYNTAX OF INTERROGATIVES IN NORTH EASTERN GROUP OF IGBO DIALECTS

MICROPARAMETRIC SYNTAX OF INTERROGATIVES IN NORTH EASTERN GROUP OF IGBO DIALECTS

ABSTRACT

This work examines the syntax of interrogatives in North Eastern Group of Igbo Dialects (NEGD) and Standard Igbo (SI). The main aim is to comparatively characterise the systems of interrogatives in the selected varieties of NEGD, namely Izhi, Ezaa, Mgbo, Ehugbo, Uburu and Nkaleha and to describe the range of parametric possibilities and constraints distinguishing between them and the standard variety (SI). In doing this, the instruments of the minimalist framework are utilised. Several questions bordering on the structures, behaviours and properties of interrogative elements in the varieties are addressed. A number of variations are found in the grammars of interrogative across the dialects studied and accordingly, accounted for. The work shows that in spite of the variations seen among the dialects of Igbo, all the interrogative forms in the language derive from the same underlying architecture. On the structure and nature of the wh-elements, the work argues that all the wh-phrases in Igbo are built on the same primary tree, though with varying internal make-ups, which account for their varying behaviours in overt syntax. The work also argues that movement of wh-phrases to SpecCP in the language is triggered by the Q-operator for feature-checking purposes andp for scope specification. Wh-in-situ instantiations in Igbo is found to be instances of ‘declarative predicate in-situ question’ (DPIQ) and ‘interrogative predicate in-situ question’ (IPIQ), both of whose interpretation is based on pragmatic, or non-syntactic factors. Based on this, the work argues that the optional tendencies in wh-characterisation of the language are only superficial; that Igbo is actually, a wh-movement language. This conclusion is notable because it has long been assumed that Igbo is optional in instantiating wh-strategies, and given to free switch between wh-movement and in-situ strategies at the volition of the user (without any syntactic motive). Again, for all contexts of yes-no question derivation in Igbo, the movement of the subject element to CP is argued to be obligatory, forced by a Q-operator feature need.