Workshop “Exhaustivity in Questions and Answers – Experimental and theoretical approaches”

Nadine Bade (ObTrEx, Tübingen), Carla Bombi (ExQ, Potsdam), Lea Fricke (ExQ, Graz), Edgar Onea (ExQ, Graz), Malte Zimmermann (ExQ, Potsdam)

Time and venue:
13.-14. June 2019 at Tübingen University, Wilhelmstr. 50 (Brechtbau), Raum 0.27

Invited speakers: Danny Fox (MIT), Maribel Romero (U Konstanz), Yimei Xiang (U Rutgers)

If you are planning to attend, please register by May 15th at the latest. Link to the registration form.

Understanding exhaustivity effects is central to the modeling of the semantics and pragmatics of questions, yet many issues regarding these effects remain unresolved. For more than 30 years, there have been theoretical debates on key components of the analysis of exhaustivity in questions and answers, including, but not limited to:

  • the status of the exhaustivity inference (semantic/pragmatic) (Dayal 1996, Nicolae 2013)
  • different levels of exhaustivity (strong, intermediate and weak) (Heim 1994, Beck & Rullmann 1999, Spector 2006, Klinedinst & Rothschild 2011)
  • the availability of mention-some interpretations (Groenendijk & Stokhof 1982, George 2011, Xiang 2016, Fox 2017)
  • the difference between matrix and embedded questions (George 2011)

Among the aspects influencing question exhaustivity (both embedded and unembedded) are discourse/exhaustifying particles, priority modals and conversation goals. Some of these aspects have been argued to license non-exhaustive, so-called mention-some, interpretations. As for embedded questions, one issue debated in the literature is how different types of question embedding verbs influence the availability of (non-)exhaustive readings of the question. For instance, while it is widely believed – at least since Heim (1994) – that know forces strong exhaustivity wherease surprise allows for weak exhaustivity, more recent theoretical and empirical approaches dispute this picture – either rejecting the notion of weak exhaustivity altogether (George 2011), or allowing for more readings for each verb (Uegaki 2015, Spector & Egré 2015, Cremers & Chemla 2016, 2017). Despite these recent debates concerning the exhaustivity effects of answers to questions, the above issues are far from resolved. Although there has been a surge in experimental approaches to exhaustivity in questions and answers (Cremers & Chemla 2016, 2017, Xiang & Cremers 2017, Moyer & Syrett in press), these topics have mostly been approached from a theoretical perspective. The cross-linguistic picture is largely unexplored.

The goal of our workshop is to bring together researchers modeling exhaustivity in questions and answers theoretically and those conducting empirical and cross-linguistic work on the topic.

Beck, S. & H. Rullmann. 1999. A flexible approach to exhaustivity in questions. Natural Language Semantics 7. 249–298. • Cremers, A. & E. Chemla. 2016. A psycholinguistic study of the exhaustive readings of embedded questions. Journal of Semantics 33. 49–85. • Cremers A. & E. Chemla. 2017. Experiments on the acceptability and possible readings of questions embedded under emotive-factives. Natural Language Semantics 25(3). 223-261. • Dayal, V. 1996. Locality in WH Quantification: Questions and Relative Clauses in Hindi. Dordrecht: Kluwer. • Nicolae, A. 2013. Any Questions? Polarity as a Window into the Structure of Questions, PhD thesis, Harvard University. • Fox, D. 2017. Exhaustivity and the Presupposition of Questions. Talk at SuB 22, Potsdam. • George, B. J. 2011. Question embedding and the semantics of answers, PhD thesis, UCLA. Groenendijk, J. & M. Stokhof. 1982. Semantic analyses of wh-complements. Linguistics and Philosophy 5. 175–233. • Heim, I. 1994. Interrogative semantics and Karttunen’ semantics for know. In R. Buchalla & A. Mittwoch (eds.). Proceedings of the Ninth Annual Conference and the Workshop on Discourse of the Israel Association for Theoretical Linguistics, 128–144. Jerusalem: Academon. • Klinedinst & Rothschild. 2011. Exhaustivity in questions with non-factives. Semantics and Pragmatics 4(2). 1–23. • Moyer, M. and K. Syrett. (in press). Contextual, lexical and structural factors licensing Mention-Some Embedded Questions. Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society. • Spector, B. 2006. Aspects de la pragmatique des opérateurs logique, PhD thesis, Université Paris Diderot. • Spector, B. & P. Egré. 2015. A uniform semantics for embedded interrogatives: An answer, not necessarily the answer. Synthese 192:1729–1784. • Uegaki, W. 2015. Interpreting questions under attitudes, PhD dissertation, MIT • Xiang, Y. 2016. Interpreting Questions with Non-exhaustive Answers, PhD thesis, Harvard University. • Xiang, Y. & A. Cremers. 2017. Mention-some readings of plural-marked questions. In A. Lamont, & K.A. Tetzloff (eds.), Proceedings of NELS 47.

In case you need child care on site please let us know.