Why and its counterparts in some languages are argued to be externally merged in a low left-peripheral specifier of a dedicated functional category and subsequently moved to a criterial position higher in the left-peripheral space. The analysis considers both short- and long-distance construals of why, asymmetries of why-extraction in finite and nonfinite complement clauses, the position of ‘why’ in a multiple wh-movement language like Romanian, and the differences between why and how come. The analysis sharpens the formal differences between movement to a criterial position and movement out of cyclic domains via escape hatches.

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