Triviality and interrogative embedding: context sensitivity, factivity, and neg-raising

Natural Language Semantics 27 (3):227-278 (2019)


Why do predicates like know embed both declarative and interrogative clauses, whereas closely related ones like believe only embed the former? The standard approach following Grimshaw to this issue has been to specify lexically for each predicate which type of complement clause it can combine with. This view is challenged by predicates such as be certain, which embed interrogative clauses only in certain contexts. To deal with this issue, this paper proposes a novel, unified semantics for declarative and interrogative embedding and a theory where embedding is constrained by semantic considerations. The reason for the apparent unembeddability of an interrogative clause under a given predicate is the resulting trivial meaning of the sentence. Such triviality manifests itself in unacceptability. Crucially, it is affected by both the lexical meaning of the predicate and the polarity of the sentence as a whole.

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Syntax and Semantics of Questions.Lauri Karttunen - 1977 - Linguistics and Philosophy 1 (1):3--44.

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Citations of this work

The *Hope-Wh Puzzle.Wataru Uegaki & Yasutada Sudo - 2019 - Natural Language Semantics 27 (4):323-356.
Properties of propositional attitude operators.R. Zuber - forthcoming - Linguistics and Philosophy:1-21.
Book Review. [REVIEW]Thomas Grano - 2021 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 30 (3):633-656.

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