Natural Language Semantics

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 1–40 | Cite as

Quantifying into Question Acts

  • Manfred Krifka


Quantified NPs in questions may lead to an interpretation in which the NP quantifies into the question. Which dish did every guest bring? can be understood as: 'For every guest x: which dish did x bring?'. After a review of previous approaches that tried to capture this quantification formally or to explain it away, it is argued that such readings involve quantification into speech acts. As the algebra of speech acts is more limited than a Boolean algebra – it only contains conjunction, not disjunction or negation – it is predicted that only universal quantifiers can scope out of questions or other speech acts. The approach is extended to indirect questions, which either are embedded speech acts or coerced to denote the true answers, depending on the embedding verb; in the latter case a Boolean structure results, and we find wide-scope readings of non-universal quantifiers.


Boolean Algebra Previous Approach Structure Result Universal Quantifier True Answer 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manfred Krifka
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut für deutsche Sprache und LinguistikHumboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Zentrum für Allgemeine SprachwissenschaftTypologie und UniversalienforschungBerlinGermany

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