In: Grazer Philosophische Studien
The study of questions and answers is challenging for various fields of theoretical linguistics, logic, analytical philosophy, and more recently computer science. Research into questions and answers addresses old and raises new and important questions about the semantics / pragmatics interface and about the dynamics of interpretation. This book brings together current work on the topic as it has been developed in Amsterdam, and congenial academic sites, over the past 15 years. Amsterdam is one of the breeding grounds for the formal study of logic and language, for dynamic semantics, and for the study of questions and answers. It covers the major issues of pragmatic/semantic investigation, including logical relations, context dependence, information structure, and more. It illustrates how semantic/pragmatic stance can be used for problems in other areas of linguistic theorising.

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.

In: Questions in Discourse

Abstract

This chapter gives an analysis in the framework of Bidirectional Optimality Theory (BiOT) of the relationship between nuclear accent and focus. Nuclear accent is a pitch accent that occurs near the end of an intonational phrase. Optimality Theory ( OT) makes use of a limited number of soft constraints (violable principles) ranked according to their relative strength. Optimal solutions are searched along two dimensions: (i) the dimension of the speaker who compares different prosodic forms for one and the same focal structure to be communicated; and (ii) the dimension of the hearer who compares different focus interpretations for a given prosodic form. The chapter analyses a number of illustrations of optimisation procedures involving the choice of nuclear accent/focus pairs for a given context. The constraints illustrate the interaction between syntax, semantics and pragmatics in determining the placement of accent within focus constructions.

In: Questions in Dynamic Semantics

Abstract

This index section presents list of terms discussed in the book Questions in Dynamic Semantics. The book brings together current work on the topic as it has been developed in Amsterdam, and congenial academic sites, over the past 15 years. Amsterdam is one of the breeding grounds for the formal study of logic and language, for dynamic semantics, and for the study of questions and answers. The book covers the major issues of pragmatic/semantic investigation, including logical relations, context dependence, information structure, and more.

In: Questions in Dynamic Semantics

Abstract

This bibliography section presents list of reference articles and chapters cited for the book Questions in Dynamic Semantics. The book brings together current work on the topic as it has been developed in Amsterdam, and congenial academic sites, over the past 15 years. Amsterdam is one of the breeding grounds for the formal study of logic and language, for dynamic semantics, and for the study of questions and answers. The book covers the major issues of pragmatic/semantic investigation, including logical relations, context dependence, information structure, and more.

In: Questions in Dynamic Semantics
In: Questions in Dynamic Semantics
In: Questions in Dynamic Semantics

Abstract

A dynamic view on meanings as context change potentials provides a substantial account of the dependence of focused answers on the context set up by their preceding questions. Questions pose conditions on the focal structure of their answers and can further restrict the domain of subsequent focusing operators like only. Standard analyses of focus define congruence in terms of identity between the question meaning and the focal alternatives of the answer. Most existing dynamic analyses of questions have been developed in the tradition of the partition theory of Groenendijk and Stokhof. This chapter presents update semantics of questions and focuses building on Gawron's dynamic model of domain restriction. It describes how dynamic analysis gives an interesting characterization of the notion of discourse congruence which covers contextual restrictions. Finally, the chapter explains how questions can restrict the domain of quantificational sentences used later in a discourse within dynamic semantics.

In: Questions in Dynamic Semantics