Language and Logic introductory course:
Topics in the Semantics of Interrogative Clauses.

  • Benjamin Spector ()
  • Márta Abrusán ()

The purpose of the class is to present in a systematic way some of the most influential lines of investigations pertaining to the semantics of questions. We will start by presenting two related types of theories, namely theories based on "sets of answers" (Hamblin 1973, Karttunen 1977), on the one hand, and theories based on "partition semantics", on the other hand (Gronendijk & Stockhof 1982, 1984), and discuss their strengths and weaknesses. This will lead us to an extensive discussion of embedded interrogatives (including topics such as weak and strong exhaustivity in relation to NPI licensing, the distinction between de dicto and de re readings, extensional vs. intensional question embedding predicates, quantificational variability). We will provide a compositional account of the meaning of wh-questions, which will allow us to address more specific topics such as identity questions, functional and pair-list readings of wh-questions, alternative questions.