Linguistics and Philosophy

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 37–64 | Cite as

Bilattices and the Semantics of Natural Language Questions

  • R. Nelken
  • N. Francez


In this paper we reexamine the question of whether questions areinherently intensional entities. We do so by proposing a novelextensional theory of questions, based on a re-interpretation of thedomain of t as a bilattice rather than the usual booleaninterpretation. We discuss the adequacy of our theory with respect tothe adequacy criteria imposed on the semantics of questionsby (Groenendijk and Stokhof 1997). We show that the theory is able to account in astraightforward manner for some complex issues in the semantics ofquestions including coordinated questions, combined indicative andinterrogative sentences, questions with quantifiers, and theimpossibility of negating questions.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Arieli, O. and A. Avron: 1996, 'Reasoning with Logical Bilattices', Journal of Logic, Language and Information 5(1), 25-63.Google Scholar
  2. Arieli, O. and A. Avron: 1998, 'The Value of the Four Values', Artificial Intelligence 102(1), 97-141.Google Scholar
  3. Chierchia, G.: 1993, 'Questions with Quantifiers', Natural Language Semantics 1(2), 181-234.Google Scholar
  4. Fitting, M.: 1991, 'Bilattices and the Semantics of Logic Programming', The Journal of Logic Programming 11, 91-116.Google Scholar
  5. Ginsberg, M. L.: 1988, 'Multi-Valued Logics: A Uniform Approach to Inference in Artificial Intelligence', Computational Intelligence 4(3), 265-316.Google Scholar
  6. Ginsberg, M. L.: 1990, 'Bilattices and Modal Operators', Journal of Logic and Computation 1(1), 41-69.Google Scholar
  7. Ginzburg, J.: 1995, 'Resolving Questions I & II', Linguistics and Philosophy 18, 459-527, 567-609.Google Scholar
  8. Groenendijk, J. and M. Stokhof: 1989, 'Type-Shifting Rules and the Semantics of Interrogatives', in G. Chierchia, B. H. Partee, and R. Turner (eds.), Properties, Types and Meaning, Vol. 2: Semantic Issues. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp. 21-68.Google Scholar
  9. Groenendijk, J. and M. Stokhof: 1997, 'Questions', in J. V. Benthem and A. T. Meulen (eds.), Handbook of Logic and Language, Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, pp. 1055-1124.Google Scholar
  10. Harrah, D.: 1984, 'The Logic of Questions', in D. Gabbay and D. Guenthner (eds.), Handbook of Philosophical Logic, Vol. 2. D. Reidel, Dordrecht, pp. 715-764.Google Scholar
  11. Hausser, R.: 1983, 'Questions and Answers', in F. Kiefer (ed.), The Syntax and Semantics of English Mood, D. Reidel, Dordrecht, pp. 97-158.Google Scholar
  12. Karttunen, L.: 1977, 'Syntax and Semantics of Questions', Linguistics and Philosophy 1, 3-44.Google Scholar
  13. Karttunen, L. and S. Peters: 1980, 'Interrogative Quantifiers', in C. Rohrer (ed.), Time, Tense and Quantifiers, Proceedings of the Stuttgart Conference on the Logic of Tense and Quantification, Tuebingen, pp. 181-205.Google Scholar
  14. Muskens, R. A.: 1989, 'Going Partial in Montague Grammar', in R. Bartsch, J. F. A. K. van Benthem, and P. van Emde Boas (eds.), Semantics and Contextual Expression, Foris, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  15. Nelken, R. and N. Francez: 1998, 'Bilattices and the Semantics of Natural Language Questions', Technical Report LCL 9801, Laboratory for Computational Linguistics, the Technion.Google Scholar
  16. Nelken, R. and N. Francez: 1999, 'The Algebraic Semantics of Questions', in Proceedings of MOL6, The Sixth Meeting on Mathematics of Language, pp. 167-182.Google Scholar
  17. Pafel, J.: 1999, 'Interrogative Quantifiers Within Scope', Linguistics and Philosophy 22, 255-310.Google Scholar
  18. Ranta, A.: 1994, Type-theoretical Grammar, Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Scha, R.: 1983, 'Logical Foundations for Question Answering', Ph.D. thesis, Groningen.Google Scholar
  20. Schoeter, A.: 1996, 'Evidential Bilattice Logic and Lexical Inference', Journal of Logic, Language and Information 5(1), 65-105.Google Scholar
  21. Szabolcsi, A.: 1997, 'Quantifiers in Pair-List Readings', in A. Szabolcsi (ed.), Ways of Scope Taking, Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp. 311-347.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Nelken
    • 1
  • N. Francez
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceThe Technion, Israel Institute of TechnologyHaifaIsrael

Personalised recommendations