Question-word movement in Tiv


Michael Terhemen Angitso


Department of Linguistics and African Languages, University of Ibadan, Nigeria


This paper investigates question formation in the Tiv language. It examines the possibility of Q-word extraction from the subject position affecting the agreement marker in the Tiv language. Do prepositions have inherent stranding features that seem to license or block complete Q-word extraction from the clausal adjunct position? The paper submits that the canonical agreement marker “a” is sensitive Q-word extraction, but more sensitive to the tense of the construction from which a Q-word is extracted. It shows that Chomsky’s multiple specifier hypothesis cannot serve as an escape hatch for all constructions. The paper submits that [+/- complement] feature is an inherent feature of prepositions that come to play from the numeration in the Tiv language: the [- complement] feature of a preposition licenses preposition stranding, while the [+ complement] feature of a preposition cannot license preposition stranding, and might at least require a resumptive pronoun in the extraction site.


Tiv; minimalist program; Q-word; extraction; resumption

Publication Date

October 1, 2014


Volume 4, Issue 1

Citation information

Angitso, Michael Terhemen. 2014. “Question-word movement in Tiv.” Language. Text. Society 4 (1): e41-e59. (Journal title at the time of publication: SamaraAltLinguo E-Journal.)


author = {Angitso, Michael Terhemen},
title = {{Question-word movement in Tiv}},
journal = {Language. Text. Society},
year = {2014},
volume = {4},
number = {1},
pages = {41–59},
url = {},


Ademola-Adeoye, Feyisayo Fehintola. 2010. A Cross-linguistic Analysis of Finite Raising Constructions. PhD Thesis, University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Angitso, T. M. 2012. Movement in the Tiv language. M.A Project, University of Ibadan, Ibadan.

Angitso, T. M. (forthcoming). On agreement and pronominalization in Tiv.

Boeckx, Cedric. 2008. Understanding minimalist syntax: lessons from locality in long-distance dependencies. Generative syntax 9. Malden, MA; Oxford: Blackwell.

Boeckx, Cedric. 2011. The character of island conditions: Thoughts inspired by contemporary linguistic theory., accessed May 20, 2014.

Cable, Seth. 2007. The grammar of Q: Q-particles and the nature of Wh-fronting, as revealed by the Wh-questions of Tlingit. Doctoral Dissertation, MIT.

Chomsky, Noam. 1973. “Conditions on transformations.” In A Festschrift for Morris Halle, edited by Morris Halle, Stephen R. Anderson, and Paul Kiparsky. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Chomsky, Noam. 1993. A minimalist program for linguistic theory. MIT occasional papers in linguistics no. 1. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Distributed by MIT Working Papers in Linguistics.

Chomsky, Noam. 1995. The Minimalist Program. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Chomsky, Noam. 2000. “Minimalist Inquiries: the framework.” In Step by step: essays on minimalist syntax in honor of Howard Lasnik, edited by Howard Lasnik, Roger Martin, David Michaels, and Juan Uriagereka. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Chomsky, Noam. 2001. “Derivation by phase.” In Ken Hale: a life in language, edited by Kenneth L. Hale, and Michael J. Kenstowicz. Current studies in linguistics 36. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Chomsky, Noam. 2004. “Beyond explanatory adequacy.” In Structures and beyond: The cartography of syntactic structures, edited by Adriana Belletti, and Certosa di Pontignano. Oxford studies in comparative syntax, v. 3. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

Chomsky, Noam. 2006. Approaching UG from Below. Unpublished paper. MIT.

Chomsky, Noam. 2008. “On Phases.” In Foundational issues in linguistic theory: essays in honor of Jean-Roger Vergnaud, edited by Jean-Roger Vergnaud, Robert Freidin, Carlos Peregrín Otero, and Maria Luisa Zubizarreta. Current studies in linguistics 45. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Collins, C. 2011. Introduction to Minimalist Syntax. African Linguistics school Handout, Centre Songhai, Porto-Novo.

Kayne, Richard S. 1994. The antisymmetry of syntax. Linguistic inquiry monographs 25. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Ouhalla, Jamal. 1999. Introducing transformational grammar: from principles and parameters to minimalism. 2nd ed. London; New York: E. Arnold; Copublished in the U.S.A by Oxford University Press.

Radford, Andrew. 2009. An introduction to English sentence structure. Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Ross, John Robert. 1967. Constraints on variables in syntax. PhD dissertation. MIT.

Sag, Ivan A. 1997. “English Relative Clause Constructions.” Journal of Linguistics 33 (2): 431–83.

Sessarego, Sandro. 2012. “Non-Creole Features in the Verb System of Afro-Hispanic Languages: New Insights from SLA Studies.” International Journal of Linguistics 4 (1): pp.146-157.