This paper explores a post-suppositional view on wh-questions and their answers with dynamic semantics. Inspired by Brasoveanu (2013); Charlow (2017); Bumford (2017), I propose a unified treatment of items like modified numerals, focus items, and wh-items: they (i) introduce a discourse referent (dref) in a non-deterministic way and (ii) impose definiteness tests (and additional tests) in a delayed, post-suppositional manner at the sentential / discourse level. Thus, with a question like “who smiled”, the (maximally informative) dref “the one(s) who smiled” is derived. A short answer like “Mary and Max” is considered another post-supposition-like, delayed test, checking whether the dref “the one(s) who smiled” is identical to (or includes) the sum “Mary⊕Max”. I analyze various question-related phenomena to see how far this proposal can go.
The paper extends a referentially transparent approach which has been successfully applied to the analysis of declarative quantified NPs to wh-phrases. This uses data from dialogical phenomena such as clarification interaction, anaphora, and incrementality as a guide to the design of wh-phrase meanings.
The sort of denotation a sentence is assigned is typically motivated by assumptions about the discourse function of sentences of that kind. For example, the notion that utterances which are functionally inquisitive (asking a question) suggest denotations which are semantically inquisitive (expressing the multiple licit responses to that question) is the cornerstone of interrogative meaning in frameworks like Alternative Semantics (Hamblin, 1973) and Inquisitive Semantics (Ciardelli et al., 2018). This paper argues that at least some kinds of questions systematically do not involve utterances with inquisitive content, based on novel observations of the Estonian discourse particle ega. Though ega is often labeled a ‘question particle’, it is used in both assertions and questions with sharply divergent discourse effects. I suggest that the relevant difference between assertive and questioning uses of ega is not semantic or sentence type-related, but rather reflects an interaction between a unified semantics for declaratives ega-sentences and different contexts of use. I then show that if we assume that ega presupposes that some aspect of the discourse context implicates the negation of ega’s prejacent, and that it occurs only in declarative sentences, we can derive its interpretation across a range of contexts: with the right combination of ingredients, we can ask questions with semantically uninquisitive sentences.
This paper investigates Farsi particle ‘mage’ in interrogatives, including both polar and constituent/Wh questions. I will show that ‘mage’ requires both contextual evidence and speaker’s prior belief in the sense that they contradict each other. While in polar questions (PQs) both types of bias can be straightforwardly expressed through the uttered proposition (cf. Mameni 2010), Wh-questions (WhQs) do not provide such a propositional object. To capture this difference, I propose Answerhood as the relevant notation that provides the necessary object source for ‘mage’ (inspired by Theiler 2021). The proposal establishes the felicity conditions and the meaning of ‘mage’ in relation to the (contextually) restricted answerhood in both polar and constituent questions.
This paper investigates the clausal embedding pattern of the Mandarin verb “xiang” (think) and reveals its internal anti-interrogative nature, with the possibility of “xiang Q” in certain cases. Through various stativity tests, I establish that the results are consistent with the generalization proposed by Özyıldız(2021), with “minor” deviations observed in the stativity of “xiang P” and the correlation with neg-raising. Additionally, I employ a semantic shift perspective to explain instances of neg-raising failure. Overall, this study sheds light on the unique characteristics of the verb “xiang” and contributes to a better cross-linguistic understanding of CP selection.
Prior studies on spoken languages have shown that indefinite and interrogative pronouns may be formally very similar. Our research aims to understand if sign languages exhibit this type of affinity. This paper presents an overview of the phenomenon and reports on the results of two studies: a cross-linguistic survey based on a sample of 30 sign languages and an empirical investigation conducted with three deaf consultants of Catalan Sign Language (LSC). Our research shows that, in sign languages, certain signs have both existential and interrogative readings and it identifies the environments that make existential interpretations available in LSC.