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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Author notes

The authors wish to thank audiences in Geneva, Bucharest, Neuchâtel, Paris, Siena, and Venice for valuable comments on earlier drafts, and Chris Collins, Kyle Johnson, Christopher Laenzlinger, Richard Kayne, Luigi Rizzi, and two LI reviewers for many helpful (and challenging) comments and questions.