Intervention Effects Follow from Focus Interpretation

Natural Language Semantics 14 (1):1-56 (2006)

Abstract

The paper provides a semantic analysis of intervention effects in wh-questions. The interpretation component of the grammar derives uninterpretability, hence ungrammaticality, of the intervention data. In the system of compositional interpretation that I suggest, wh-phrases play the same role as focused phrases, introducing alternatives into the computation. Unlike focus, wh-phrases make no ordinary semantic contribution. An intervention effect occurs whenever a focus-sensitive operator other than the question operator tries to evaluate a constituent containing a wh-phrase. It is argued that this approach can capture the universal as well as the crosslinguistically variable aspects of intervention effects, in a way that is superior to previous approaches. Further consequences concern other focus-related constructions: multiple focus data, NPI licensing, and alternative questions

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References found in this work

Restrictions on Quantifier Domains.Kai von Fintel - 1994 - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Syntax and Semantics of Questions.Lauri Karttunen - 1977 - Linguistics and Philosophy 1 (1):3--44.
Questions in Montague English.Charles L. Hamblin - 1973 - Foundations of Language 10 (1):41-53.
A Theory of Focus Interpretation.Mats Rooth - 1992 - Natural Language Semantics 1 (1):75-116.
Negative Polarity and Grammatical Representation.Marcia C. Linebarger - 1987 - Linguistics and Philosophy 10 (3):325 - 387.

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Citations of this work

The scope of alternatives: indefiniteness and islands.Simon Charlow - 2020 - Linguistics and Philosophy 43 (4):427-472.
What Do Quantifier Particles Do?Anna Szabolcsi - 2015 - Linguistics and Philosophy 38 (2):159-204.
Presupposition Triggering From Alternatives.D. Abusch - 2010 - Journal of Semantics 27 (1):37-80.

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