# A uniform semantics for embedded interrogatives: *an* answer, not necessarily *the* answer

- 415 Downloads
- 15 Citations

## Abstract

Our paper addresses the following question: Is there a general characterization, for all predicates P that take both declarative and interrogative complements (*responsive predicates* in the sense of Lahiri’s 2002 typology, see Lahiri, *Questions and Answers in Embedded Contexts*, OUP, 2002), of the meaning of the *P-interrogative clause *construction in terms of the meaning of the *P-declarative clause* construction? On our account, if P is a responsive predicate and Q a question embedded under P, then the meaning of ‘P + Q’ is, informally, “to be in the relation expressed by P to *some potential complete* answer to Q”. We show that this rule allows us to derive veridical and non-veridical readings of embedded questions, depending on whether the embedding verb is veridical or not, and provide novel empirical evidence supporting the generalization. We then enrich our basic proposal to account for the presuppositions induced by the embedding verbs, as well as for the generation of *intermediate exhaustive readings* of embedded questions (Klinedinst and Rothschild in Semant Pragmat 4:1–23, 2011).

## Keywords

Questions Interrogative semantics Embedded questions Presupposition Exhaustivity Attitude predicates Knowledge Factivity Veridicality## Notes

### Acknowledgments

The research leading to these results has received support from the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (Grants ANR-10-LABX-0087 IEC, ANR-10-IDEX-0001-02 PSL and ANR-14-CE30-0010-01 TriLogMean). We thank the editors of this special issue, Yacin Hamami and Floris Roelofsen, for their encouragement to submit our work, and for many helpful suggestions. We are grateful to the two reviewers of this paper for detailed and valuable comments, and in particular to Jeroen Groenendijk, whose extremely detailed and perspicuous comments contributed very significantly to the final version of our proposal. Special thanks go to Marta Abrusan, Emmanuel Chemla, Alexandre Cremers, Danny Fox, Benjamin George, Elena Guerzoni, Nathan Klinedinst, Daniel Rothschild, Savas Tsohatzidis, and to audiences at MIT (LingLunch 2007), Paris (JSM 2008), Amsterdam (2009), UCLA (2009), and the University of Maryland (2014). We also thank Melanie Bervoets, Heather Burnett, Nat Hansen and David Ripley for native speakers’ judgments in English. The research leading to these results has received support from the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (Grants ANR-10-LABX-0087 IEC, ANR-10-IDEX-0001-02 PSL and ANR-14-CE30-0010-01 TriLogMean).

### Compliance with ethical standards

This research did not involve human or animal participants. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

## References

- Beck, S., & Rullman, H. (1999). A flexible approach to exhaustivity in questions.
*Natural Language Semantics*,*7*, 249–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Berman, S. (1991).
*The semantics of open sentences*, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Massachusetts.Google Scholar - Ciardelli, I. (2009).
*Inquistive semantics and intermediate logics*. Master Thesis, University of Amsterdam.Google Scholar - Ciardelli, & Roelofsen, F. (2009). Generalized inquisitive logic: Completeness via intuitionistic Kripke models.
*Proceedings of Theoretical Aspects of Rationality and Knowledge*.Google Scholar - Ciardelli, I., & Roelofsen, F. (2011). Inquisitive logic.
*Journal of Philosophical Logic*,*40*(1), 55–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Ciardelli, I., & Roelofsen, F. Inquisitive dynamic epistemic logic. To appear in
*Synthese*, 1–45.Google Scholar - Ciardelli, I., Groenendijk, J., & Roelofsen, F. (2013). Inquisive semantics : A new notion of meaning.
*Language and Linguistics Compass*,*7*(9), 459–476.Google Scholar - Chemla, E., & George, B. (2014). Can we agree about
*agree*?.Google Scholar - Cremers, A., & Chemla, E. (2014). A psycholinguistic study of the exhaustive readings of embedded questions.
*Journal of Semantics*, ffu014. Ms. Available at http://semanticsarchive.net/Archive/DU3YWU2M/cremerschemla-semarch.html. - Dayal, V. (1996).
*Locality in WH quantification: Questions and relative clauses in Hindi*. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Egré, P. (2008). Question-embedding and factivity.
*Grazer Philosophische Studien*,*77*(1), 85–125.Google Scholar - von Fintel, K. (2004). Would you believe it? The king of France is back! (Presuppositions and truth-value intuitions). In M. Reimer & A. Bezuidenhout (Eds.),
*Descriptions and beyond*(pp. 315–341). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar - Fintel, K., & Heim, I. (2011). Lecture notes in intensional semantics, Ms., MIT. Available at http://mit.edu/fintel/fintel-heim-intensional.pdf.
- Fox, D. (2007). Free choice disjunction and the theory of scalar implicatures. In U. Sauerland & P. Stateva (Eds.),
*Presupposition and implicature in compositional semantics*(pp. 71–120). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar - Fox, D. (2013). Classnotes on mention-some readings., Ms., MIT, Available at http://web.mit.edu/linguistics/people/faculty/fox/class1-3.pdf.
- Gajewski, J. (2005).
*Neg-raising: Polarity and presupposition*, PhD Dissertation, MIT.Google Scholar - George, B. (2011).
*Question embedding and the semantics of answers*, PhD Dissertation, UCLA.Google Scholar - Gettier, E. (1963). Is justified true belief knowledge.
*Analysis*, 121–123.Google Scholar - Groenendijk, J. (2009). Inquisitive semantics: Two possibilities for disjunction. In P. Bosch, D. Gabelaia, & J. Lang (Eds.),
*Seventh Tblisi symposium on language, logic and computation*. Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar - Groenendijk, J., & Roelofsen, F. (2009). Inquisitive semantics and pragmatics. Presented at the workshop on Language, Communication and Rational Agency, Stanford. URL www.illc.uva.nl/inquisitivesemantics.
- Groenendijk, J., & Stokhof, M. (1982). Semantic analysis of Wh-complements.
*Linguistics and Philosophy*,*5*, 117–233.Google Scholar - Groenendijk, J., & Stokhof, M. (1984).
*Studies on the semantics of questions and the pragmatics of answers*. PhD Thesis. University of Amsterdam.Google Scholar - Groenendijk, J., & Stokhof, M. (1993). Interrogatives and adverbs of quantification. In K. Bimbo & A. Mate (Eds.),
*Proceedings of the 4th symposium on logic and language*.Google Scholar - Groenendijk, J., & Stokhof, M. (1997). Questions. In J. van Benthem & A. ter Meulen (Eds.),
*Handbook of semantics*. Elsevier.Google Scholar - Guerzoni, E. (2007). Weak exhaustivity and whether: A pragmatic approach. In T. Friedman & M. Gibson (Eds.),
*Proceedings of SALT*(pp. 112–129). Ithaca: Cornell.Google Scholar - Guerzoni, E., & Sharvit, Y. (2007). A question of strength: On NPIs in interrogative clauses.
*Linguistics and Philosophy*,*30*(3), 361–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Hamblin, C. L. (1973). Questions in Montague english.
*Foundations of Language*, 41–53.Google Scholar - Heim, I. (1994). Interrogative Semantics and Karttunen’s semantics for know. In R. Buchalla & A. Mittwoch (Eds.),
*Proceedings of IATL 1*(pp. 128–144). : Hebrew University of Jerusalem.Google Scholar - Heim, I., & Kratzer, A. (1998).
*Semantics in generative grammar*. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar - Higginbotham, J. (1996). The semantics of questions. In S. Lappin (Ed.),
*The Handbook of Contemporary Semantic Theory*. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar - Hintikka, J. (1976).
*The semantics of questions and the questions of semantics*. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar - Karttunen, L. (1977). Syntax and semantics of questions.
*Linguistics and Philosophy*,*1*, 3–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Klinedinst, N., & Rothschild, D. (2011). Exhaustivity in questions with non-factives.
*Semantics and Pragmatics*,*4*(2), 1–23.Google Scholar - Lahiri, U. (2002).
*Questions and answers in embedded contexts*., Oxford studies in theoretical linguistics Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar - Lewis, D. (1982). ‘Whether’ report. In Pauli, T., & al. (eds),
*Philosophical essays dedicated to L. Aqvist on his 50th Birthday*, repr. in D. Lewis, Papers in Philosophical Logic, chap. 3, Cambridge Studies in Philosophy.Google Scholar - Mascarenhas, S. (2009).
*Inquisitive semantics and logic*. MSc in Logic thesis. Amsterdam: Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation.Google Scholar - Preuss, S. (2001).
*Issues in the Semantics of Questions with Quantifiers*, PhD dissertation, Rutgers.Google Scholar - Roelofsen, F. (2013). Algebraic foundations for the semantic treatment of inquisitive content.
*Syntehese*,*190*(1), 79–102. doi: 10.1007/s11229-013-0282-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Roelofsen, F., Theiler, N., & Aloni, M. (2014). Embedded interrogatives : the role of false answers. Presented at the 7th questions in discourse workshop, Göttingen, Sept 2014.Google Scholar
- Romoli, J. (2013). A scalar implicature-based approach to neg-raising.
*Linguistics and philosophy*,*36*(4), 291–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Sharvit, Y. (2002). Embedded questions and ‘De Dicto’ readings.
*Natural Language Semantics*,*10*, 97–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Schlenker, P. (2007). Transparency: An incremental theory of presupposition projection. In U. Sauerland & P. Stateva (Eds.),
*Presupposition and impicature in compositional semantics*(pp. 214–242). New York: Palgrave.Google Scholar - Schlenker, P. (2010). Local contexts and local meaning.
*Philosophical Studies*,*151*, 115–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Spector, B. (2005).
*Exhaustive interpretations: What to say and what not to say*. Unpublished paper presented at the LSA workshop on Context and Content, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar - Spector, B. (2006).
*Aspects de la pragmatique des opérateurs logiques*, PhD Dissertation, University of Paris 7.Google Scholar - Spector, B., & Egré, P. (2007). Embedded questions revisited: An answer, not necessarily
*the*answer. Handout, MIT linglunch, Nov 8, 2007. Available at http://lumiere.ens.fr/~bspector/Webpage/handout_mit_Egre&SpectorFinal.pdf. - Theiler, N. (2014).
*A multitude of answers: Embedded questions in typed inquisitive semantics*. MSc thesis, University of Amsterdam, supervised by M. Aloni and F. Roelofsen.Google Scholar - Tsohatzidis, S. L. (1993). Speaking of Truth-Telling: the View from Wh-complements.
*Journal of Pragmatics*,*19*, 271–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Tsohatzidis, S. L. (1997). More telling examples: A reply to Holton.
*Journal of Pragmatics*,*28*, 625–628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Williamson, T. (2000).
*Knowledge and its limits*. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar