The syntax and interpretation of Urdu/Hindi polar kya


  • Miriam Butt University of Konstanz
  • Maria Biezma University of Massachusetts, Amherst


polar kya, Urdu/Hindi, questions, prosody, semantics, scope marking, f-precedence


This paper focuses on the syntactic distribution and corresponding interpretative possibilities of Urdu/Hindi polar kya ‘what’. Building on previous work on prosodic and pragmatic properties of polar kya, this paper takes on the complex interaction between interpretational scope, prosodic prominence and the syntactic distribution of kya. The analysis posits one underlying wh-item kya ‘what’ that plays out as either a particle used in polar questions or as a constituent question depending on the prosodic properties associated with it. The targets of application of the kya is determined via an interaction of syntactic position with prosodic prominence and is modeled via f-precedence and scope marking at f-structure.