12: Counting (on) Usage Information: WH Questions at the Syntax-Semantics Interface

In: Questions in Dynamic Semantics
Alastair Butler
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Predicate Logic with Anaphom (PLA) gives a semantics for a language of predicate logic with atomic formulas taking, in addition to variables, "pronouns" as terms. This chapter introduces a semantics for interrogatives with a set up motivated by the need to give an appropriate semantics for indefinites. It shows how WH-phrases are treated basically like indefinites, that is, as binders that might have usage information to ensure their support. The chapter shows how the options left available for the distribution of usage information placed restrictions on the forms expressions could take and that this matched up with the range of variation exhibited by WH questions cross-linguistically. While agreeing with the status of WH-phrases as indefinites, the account was shown to be just as consistent with the view of WH-phrases as variables, since their semantics was such that they would pop namely position to take as the value for their binding.