On elliptical why-fragments
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In this dissertation I argue that why-fragments cannot be explained through syntactic move-and-delete operations. This argument is motivated by the existence of why-fragments that are discourse-initial and, in many cases, without plausible reconstructions. I propose a discourse constraint of agentivity as an alternative to syntactic explanations, and make several observations about elliptical why-questions in general. First, why-fragments may be divided into three classes depending on the source of agentivity: normal, metalinguistic and metaphysical. Second, elliptical why-questions have much in common with Mad Magazine sentences (Akmajian, 1984). Finally, why-fragments may be used to question a particular act or an act in general, while tenseless why-questions may only do the latter.