Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-846f6c7c4f-9v9hh Total loading time: 0.482 Render date: 2022-07-06T20:32:51.812Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

19 - Questions

from Part IV - Intensionality and force

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 July 2016

Paul Dekker
Affiliation:
University of Amsterdam
Maria Aloni
Affiliation:
University of Amsterdam
Jeroen Groenendijk
Affiliation:
University of Amsterdam
Maria Aloni
Affiliation:
Universiteit van Amsterdam
Paul Dekker
Affiliation:
Universiteit van Amsterdam
Get access

Summary

Introduction

In this chapter we give an overview of the research area which studies the meaning of questions. We start with explaining some general notions and insights in this area, and then zoom in on the three most influential semantic theories of questions, which all attempt to characterize question meaning in terms of “answerhood conditions”. (They are thus following up on the notion of “truth conditions” as the core notion of a formal semantics for indicative sentences.) Next, we discuss some special topics in the study of questions and answers, where we focus on issues which are concerned with identity and questions which have to do with scope. Finally, we describe some pragmatic features of answering questions and the general role that questions play in the dynamics of discourse, leading up to a concise introduction of the recent framework of inquisitive semantics.

Questions can be studied from various perspectives. For a syntactician, questions are linguistic entities, sentences of a certain kind with distinctive formal features. In English they typically display a change in word order (Is Marco smart? versus Marco is smart), they host wh-expressions with characteristic syntactic features (who, what, where, how, but also which students, which Canadians and the like), and in spoken language a question normally, but not invariably, comes with specific intonation, while in written language it is accompanied by a question mark.

For a semanticist, questions are abstract objects taken as the denotations of the above-described type of syntactic expressions. A semanticist here may take his cue from the (formal) study of indicative sentences. There the aim is to uncover a domain of denotations (labeled “propositions” mostly), as, for instance, an algebra which hosts logical constructions (like that of conjunction, disjunction, negation) and logical relations (like entailment, synonymy, and (in-)consistency). In the semantic study of interrogatives the aim is to establish a corresponding domain of denotations that underlies suitable notions of question entailment and answerhood.

From a pragmatic perspective, questions are essentially events in a discourse or dialogue. In response to the utterance of an interrogative sentence onemay legitimately ask “Was that a question?” Questions, then, are certain acts in a conversation the very performance of which is subject to linguistic and pragmatic rules.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2016

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×