Natural Language Semantics

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 1–56 | Cite as

Intervention Effects Follow from Focus Interpretation*

  • Sigrid BeckEmail author

The paper provides a semantic analysis of intervention effects in wh-questions. The interpretation component of the grammar derives uninterpretability, hence ungrammaticality, of the intervention data. In the system of compositional interpretation that I suggest, wh-phrases play the same role as focused phrases, introducing alternatives into the computation. Unlike focus, wh-phrases make no ordinary semantic contribution. An intervention effect occurs whenever a focus-sensitive operator other than the question operator tries to evaluate a constituent containing a wh-phrase. It is argued that this approach can capture the universal as well as the crosslinguistically variable aspects of intervention effects, in a way that is superior to previous approaches. Further consequences concern other focus-related constructions: multiple focus data, NPI licensing, and alternative questions.


Intervention Effect Semantic Analysis Intervention Data Previous Approach Multiple Focus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für LinguistikUniversität PotsdamPotsdamGermany

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