On the semantics and logic of declaratives and interrogatives

Synthese 192 (6):1689-1728 (2015)
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In many natural languages, there are clear syntactic and/or intonational differences between declarative sentences, which are primarily used to provide information, and interrogative sentences, which are primarily used to request information. Most logical frameworks restrict their attention to the former. Those that are concerned with both usually assume a logical language that makes a clear syntactic distinction between declaratives and interrogatives, and usually assign different types of semantic values to these two types of sentences. A different approach has been taken in recent work on inquisitive semantics. This approach does not take the basic syntactic distinction between declaratives and interrogatives as its starting point, but rather a new notion of meaning that captures both informative and inquisitive content in an integrated way. The standard way to treat the logical connectives in this approach is to associate them with the basic algebraic operations on these new types of meanings. For instance, conjunction and disjunction are treated as meet and join operators, just as in classical logic. This gives rise to a hybrid system, where sentences can be both informative and inquisitive at the same time, and there is no clearcut division between declaratives and interrogatives. It may seem that these two general approaches in the existing literature are quite incompatible. The main aim of this paper is to show that this is not the case. We develop an inquisitive semantics for a logical language that has a clearcut division between declaratives and interrogatives. We show that this language coincides in expressive power with the hybrid language that is standardly assumed in inquisitive semantics, we establish a sound and complete axiomatization for the associated logic, and we consider a natural enrichment of the system with presuppositional interrogatives



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Author Profiles

Jeroen Groenendijk
University of Amsterdam
Floris Roelofsen
University of Amsterdam

Citations of this work

Questions, topics and restricted closure.Peter Hawke - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (10):2759-2784.
Questions as information types.Ivano Ciardelli - 2018 - Synthese 195 (1):321-365.
Occasion-sensitive semantics for objective predicates.Tamara Dobler - 2019 - Linguistics and Philosophy 42 (5):451-474.

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Studies in the way of words.Herbert Paul Grice - 1989 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Inquisitive Semantics.Ivano Ciardelli, Jeroen Groenendijk & Floris Roelofsen - 2018 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. Edited by J. A. G. Groenendijk & Floris Roelofsen.
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.

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