'Wh'-question intonation in Standard Colloquial Bengali: An LFG analysis


In this chapter, we examine the intonational phonology of multi-clause con- stituent (‘wh’-) questions in the dialect of Standard Colloquial Bengali (SCB), spoken in Kolkata, West Bengal (cf. Chatterji 1921; Hayes & Lahiri 1991; Lahiri & Kennard 2020). We seek to explore the relationships that exist between into- national phonology, pragmatics (viz. information structure), and semantics (viz. interrogative scope), modelling them in the framework of Lexical-Functional Grammar (LFG). Our goal in eliciting data was to identify patterns of intonation used with ‘wh’-questions in SCB for analysis within the non-derivational frame- work of LFG. In particular, we sought to investigate multiple ‘wh’-questions and multi-clause ‘wh’-questions. We aimed to determine if all ‘regular’ ‘wh’-questions bear the same L* HP LI contour identified in Hayes and Lahiri (1991) regardless of how many ‘wh’-question words appear (single vs. multiple ‘wh’-questions) or how many clauses a ‘wh’-question word may take scope over (single vs. multi- clause ‘wh’-questions). After providing background on intonational phonology and Bengali (Section 17.2), we outline our methodology (Section 17.3), and then present our results (Section 17.4). Discussion and LFG analyses are provided (Section 17.5) before we supply our conclusions (Section 17.6).

In I. W. Arka, A. Asudeh, & T. H. King (Eds.), Modular Design of Grammar: Linguistics on the Edge, Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 282-302

Synopsis of this book:

This volume presents the latest research in linguistic modules and interfaces in Lexical-Functional Grammar (LFG). LFG has a highly modular design that models the linguistic system as a set of discreet submodules that include, among others, constituent structure, functional structure, argument structure, semantic structure, and prosodic structure; each module has its own coherent properties and is related to other modules by correspondence functions. Following a detailed introduction, Part I examines the nature of linguistic structures, interfaces, and representations in LFG’s architecture and ontology. Parts II and III are concerned with problems, analyses, and generalizations associated with linguistic phenomena of long-standing theoretical significance, including agreement, reciprocals, possessives, reflexives, raising, subjecthood, and relativization, demonstrating how these phenomena can be naturally accounted for within LFG’s modular architecture. Part IV explores issues of the synchronic and diachronic dynamics of syntactic categories in grammar, such as unlike category coordination, fuzzy categorial edges, and consequences of decategorialization, providing explicit LFG solutions to such problems, including those resulting from language change in progress. The final part re-examines and refines the precise representations and interfaces of syntax with morphology, semantics, and pragmatics to account for challenging facts such as suspended affixation, prosody in multiple question word interrogatives and information structure, anaphoric dependencies, and idioms. The volume draws on data from a range of typologically diverse languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Icelandic, Kelabit, Polish, and Urdu, and will be of interest not only to those working in LFG and related frameworks, but to all those working on linguistic interfaces from a variety of theoretical standpoints.