Graduate studies at Western
|Abstract||This paper is about a topic in the semantics of interrogatives.1 In what follows a number of assumptions ﬁgure at the background which, though intuitively appealing, have not gone unchallenged, and it seems therefore only fair to draw the reader’s attention to them at the outset. The ﬁrst assumption concerns a very global intuition about the kind of semantic objects that we associate with interrogatives. The intuition is that there is an intimate relationship between interrogatives and their answers: an interrogative determines what counts as an answer.2 Given a certain, independently motivated, view on what constitutes the meaning of an answer, this intuition, in return, determines what constitutes the meaning of an interrogative. For example, starting from the observation that answers are true or false in situations, we may be led to the view that answers express propositions, i.e., objects which determine a truth value in a situation. Given that much, our basic intuition says that interrogatives are to be associated with objects which determine propositions. Such objects will be referred to as ‘questions’ in what follows. Notice that all this is largely framework independent: we have made no assumptions yet about what situations, propositions, and questions are, we have only related them in a certain systematic way. In fact we will use a more or less standard, but certainly not uncontroversial, speciﬁcation in what follows: situations are identiﬁed with (total) possible worlds; propositions with sets of worlds; and questions with equivalence relations on the set of worlds. The second assumption that plays a role in what follows is of a more linguistic nature. Interrogatives typically occur in two ways: as independent expressions, and as complements of certain verbs. The assumption is that these two ways of occurring are systematically related, not just syntactically but also semantically.3 Notice that the exact nature of this relationship is underdeter..|
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