Potential Questions at the Semantics-Pragmatics Interface


Author: Edgar Onea
In Potential Questions at the Semantics-Pragmatics Interface Edgar Onea proposes a novel component for question under discussion based discourse pragmatic theories thereby combining such theories with new ideas from inquisitive semantics. He shows how potential questions account for an entire range of grammatical phenomena. These phenomena include the semantics of indefinite determiners, the meaning contribution of nominal appositives, specificational constructions and non restrictive relative clauses.

This book delivers a comprehensive and empirically rich investigation into the role of questions in natural language interpretation. Drawing on data from German, English, Hungarian and Russian, Edgar Onea's study significantly broadens our understanding of conventional sensitivity to questions through formally rigorous analyses of specificational particles, parentheticals and indefinites. The Potential Questions framework offers a new and exciting perspective on utterance meanings as not just addressing, but also raising questions, with important consequences for integrated analyses of discourse structure and discourse relations. This book is essential reading for anybody interested in the semantics-pragmatics interface.

Judith Tonhauser, The Ohio State University

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Edgar Onea, Dr Phil (1980), University of Göttingen, is a Junior Professor for Theoretical Linguistics at the Courant Research Centre “Text Structures”. He has published a wide range of articles on the semantics-pragmatics interface and formal pragmatics.
1 Introduction 1
1.1 What are potential questions?
1.2 Potential questions in grammar
1.3 Discourse coherence and potential questions
1.4 How to read this book

2 Potential questions in grammar
2.1 Specificational constructions
2.2 Indefinite pronouns and determiners
2.3 Appositives and non-restrictive material
2.4 Where indefinites and appositives converge

3 Questions and interrogatives – the basics
3.1 Main semantic approaches to questions
3.2 Questions in inquisitive semantics
3.3 Highlighting
3.4 Answerhood
3.5 Sub-questions
3.6 Questions and interrogatives

4 Potential questions as parameters of discourse representation
4.1 The notion of potential questions
4.2 The representation of potential questions
4.3 Reconstructing PQs

5 Nominal appositives and non-restrictive relative clauses
5.1 The projection problem
5.2 The proposal
5.3 Consequences
5.4 Conclusion

6 The semantics of specificational constructions
6.1 The common core of specificational particles
6.2 Namlich and und zwar
6.3 Explanation and specification
6.4 Discourse referents and potential questions

7 The semantics of indefinite determiners
7.1 The story so far
7.2 The compositional system
7.3 Indefinites and questions
7.4 Scope control and potential questions
7.5 Functional readings
7.6 Lexical variation

8 Potential questions in discourse
8.1 Strategic discourse and potential questions
8.2 The representation of potential questions in discourse
8.3 From discourse trees to SDRT and back

9 Outlook


Anyone interested in the semantics-pragmatics interface, indefinites, appositives, non-restrictive relative clauses, specificational constructions with at least basic training in formal semantics and pragmatics.