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Series:

Annika Herrmann, Sina Proske and Elisabeth Volk

Abstract

Sign languages apply different means to mark focus and other information structural notions. So-called question-answer pairs are one of these options to highlight constituents. Based on a recent debate on the syntactic analysis of question-answer pairs as a sentential unit in American Sign Language, we discuss their syntactic structure and present two empirical studies comparing possible positions of wh-words in wh-questions and question-answer pairs in German Sign Language (DGS). In wh-questions of DGS, wh-words may appear sentence initially, sentence finally, and doubled in sentence initial and final position, with a tendency of an unmarked final position. Question-answer pairs in DGS exhibit a specific nonmanual marking and show no clear restrictions with respect to the choice of wh-words. Wh-doubling, which is generally used for emphasis in regular wh-questions, is also possible in question-answer pairs in DGS, but more marked than the initial and the default final wh-word position. On these grounds, we argue against Wilbur’s (1996) wh-cleft account and follow a pragmatically modified version of Caponigro & Davidson’s (2011) analysis as complex declarative clauses to account for question-answer pairs in DGS.

Series:

Edgar Onea and Malte Zimmermann

Abstract

Recently, questions have become a very prominent topic at the semantics-pragmatics interface. A wide range of papers on the semantics and pragmatics of natural language as well as discourse structure have been published that – in some way or another – use or presuppose important assumptions about questions. With this background, this paper provides a comprehensive overview of the recent literature concerning the semantics and pragmatics of questions. In particular, the paper provides a short introduction to the formal semantic analysis of questions and it gives an overview and critical evaluation of the main topics of current research on questions at the semantics-pragmatics interface. The central purpose of this overview is to make it easier for readers to access current research on the semantics and pragmatics of question, information structure and discourse structure, projection and at-issueness as well as the semantics and pragmatics of discourse particles, and to situate these within the current state-of-the-art in question research. We expect this overview to be of particular use to scholars new to the field, but because of its wide coverage of empirical phenomena and analytical tools, the overview should provide useful for experts in the field as well.

Series:

Henk Zeevat

Abstract

The well-demonstrated differences between comparative and superlative quantification find an explanation by non-standard logic, i.c. inquisitive logic in Coppock and Brochhagen (2013). The paper tries to show that leaving standard logic is not necessary, if one follows the insight of Krifka (1999) that “at most” and “at least” are particles. Particles would make a contribution to the content of their own which by its nature may deselect certain readings of the host and override certain aspects of the pragmatic contribution of the host. The host influences the particle meaning mainly by binding free slots in its content. The contribution of the two particles is the statement that x is an upper or lower bound of a quantity, this deselects the readings of the host in which it is not answering a quantity question and overrides the exhaustive implicature of such a reading. The host binds the slots in the particle semantics for the quantity question and its answer. It is shown that this analysis for the two particles fully explains the effects found in superlative quantification.

Series:

Floris Roelofsen

Abstract

There are two prominent treatments of disjunction in formal semantics. Traditionally, disjunction is taken to express an operator that applies to any two elements A and B of a Boolean algebra and yields their join. In particular, if A and B are propositions, then disjunction delivers their union, . Another, more recent proposal is to treat disjunction as expressing an operator that can apply to any two objects of the same semantic type, and yields the set consisting of these two objects. In particular, if disjunction applies to two propositions A and B, it delivers a set of propositional alternatives, . Each of the two approaches has certain merits that the other one lacks. Thus, it would be desirable to reconcile the two, combining their respective strengths. This paper shows that this is indeed possible, if we adopt a notion of meaning that does not just take truth-conditional, informative content into consideration, but also inquisitive content.

Series:

Edgar Onea

Abstract

In the attempt of formal pragmatics to capture discourse structure and discourse coherence two main types of theories have emerged: rhetorical relation based theories and question under discussion based theories. In linguistic research question under discussion (QUD) based theories of discourse in the sense of van Kuppevelt (1995a,b) and (Roberts, 1996, 2012) have proven to be highly useful to capture meaning contributions of natural language expressions and constructions in terms of small-scale discourse structure representations. As a larger scale discourse model, however, such theories have been widely considered inferior to theories of discourse structure based on rhetorical relations such as Mann & Thompson (1988a), Asher (1993a), Asher & Lascarides 2003. In this paper I extend QUD-theories to full-scale discourse models comparable with rhetorical relations based theories both in empirical coverage and formal explicitness. While QUD-based theories will still have problems capturing a useful notion of discourse coherence, I argue that question based models have conceptual and empirical advantages as compared to theories of rhetorical structure when it comes to fine-grained analysis of linguistic phenomena, thus they should be used to complement rhetorical structure based theories.

Series:

Floris Roelofsen, Michele Herbstritt and Maria Aloni

Abstract

This paper offers an account of the fact that certain verbs license wh-questions as their complement but not whether-questions. For instance, it is felicitous to say It is surprising who Bill had invited but not to say It is surprising whether Bill had invited his wife. We refer to this contrast as the *whether puzzle. We propose an account which crucially rests on the assumption that the relevant kind of verbs are sensitive to the semantic objects that their complement clause brings into salience, rather than just its truth/resolution conditions. It has been argued in previous work that the semantic objects that matrix questions bring into salience are important to understand the role of such questions in discourse. The present paper is, to the best of our knowledge, the first to argue that this aspect of meaning is also crucial for understanding the role of embedded questions in grammar.

Series:

Edited by Manuela E. B. Giolfo and Kees Versteegh

This volume contains sixteen contributions from the fourth conference on the Foundations of Arabic linguistics (Genova, 2016), all having to do with the development of linguistic theory in the Arabic grammatical tradition, starting from Sībawayhi's Kitāb (end of the 8th century C.E.) and its continuing evolution in later grammarians up till the 14th century C.E. The scope of this volume includes the links between grammar and other disciplines, such as lexicography and logic, and the reception of Arabic grammar in the Persian and Malay linguistic tradition.