Nicole Dehé &
pragmatics and prosody of parenthetical what.
In English Language & Linguistics
This paper contributes to the discussion of parentheticals. It focuses
on a specific one-word parenthetical in English, namely what. To account for its
distributional behaviour we offer a multi-faceted approach.
Specifically, our study explains why parenthetical what strongly prefers the position
immediately preceding a numeral. In this respect, we identify three key
questions which can only be answered collectively by looking into its
syntactic properties, semantic and pragmatic motivation, and prosodic
characteristics. While syntax accounts for parenthetical what being attached to the node
that dominates the numeral, pragmatics takes care of its position
immediately preceding the numeral, and prosody explains the
unacceptability of what in
sentence-initial position. In this way, this study supports the idea
that to fully account for the behaviour of parenthetical structures,
the phenomenon should not be restricted to a single component of the
grammar. The strength of the present approach also lies in
the authenticity and amount of data we used.