The Dual Function of Q-Marker in Korean: Evidence from Unselected Embedded Questions

Myung-Kwan Park 1 ,
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1Dongguk University
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ⓒ Copyright 2021 Language Education Institute, Seoul National University. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Jun 29, 2021 ; Revised: Aug 15, 2021 ; Accepted: Aug 23, 2021

Published Online: Aug 31, 2021


This study investigates the distribution of unselected embedded questions (EQs). Cross-linguistically, with the exception of certain restricted adverbial uses, EQs tend to appear with question-embedding predicates. However, Kim & Tomioka (2014) noted that EQs in Korean/Japanese are in wider distribution compared to English. Comparing Korean/Japanese with Chinese/English, this study shows that the difference between these two groups regarding the availability of EQs lies in the overt realization of an interrogative complementizer or Q-marker. Korean/Japanese deploys an overt form of Q-marker that can convert/ grammaticalize into an adverbializer; specifically, it has a dual function, primarily as a Q-marker and secondarily as an adverbializer. Contrarily, Chinese/English does not, which restricts the use of EQs in these two languages. Along this line of analysis, the study also suggests that indefinites in Korean derived from wh-phrases plus Q-markers are fed by the same strategy of deriving unselected EQs.

Keywords: Q-marker; unselected indirect question; interrogative complementizer; adverbializer; indeterminate/indefinite



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