Embedded Interrogatives and Predicates That Embed Them

U. Lahiri, 1991

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This thesis deals with certain issues in the interpretation of embedded interrogatives, in particular, the role of the notion answer to a question in the interpretation of embedded interrogatives.  Chapter 1 discusses a certain view about the interpretation of embedded interrogatives deriving from Hinitikka (1976) and Berman (1991), and raises problems for the view that embedded interrogative complements of predicates like know are open sentences.  I discuss the phenomenon of Quantificational Variability, viz., the fact that certain adverbs of quantification restrict the interpretation of structures containing interrogatives embedded under predicates like know in a way they do not for predicates like knows.  I argue that the distinction between the two classes of predicates is not between factives and non-factives, but between those predicates that are true of questions and an agent only if their proposition-taking counterpart is true of the agent and some answer to the question.  I also argue that certain predicates require their embedded interrogatives to be interpreted as whole answers rather than the way expected of the open sentence view.

In Chapter 2, I examine possible syntactic evidence for the claim that the interrogative complements of predicates like know and predicates like wonder are syntactically distinct, and show that no such evidence is available in English.  I examine the case of Spanish which has been proposed to maintain such a distinction, and again show that the relevant distinction is between speech0act and non-speech-act verbs, and so is not directly relevant to the issue of which predicates allow Quantificaitonal Variability.

In Chapter 3, I develop an account of Quantificaitonal Variability that highlights the ways in which answers to questions are relevant in interpeting embedded interrogatives.  In order to do this, I first distinguish between two classes of adverbials of quantification, viz., adverbials of frequency and adverbials of quantity and precision, and show that only the latter are relevant to Quantificational Variability.  I argue that instantial answers to questions can be viewed as things with a Boolean part-structure, and develop a theory of quantification for atomic Boolean algebras modelled on Higginbotham"s treatment of mass-quantification.  Since instantial answers of a particular kind have an atomic Boolean part-structure, this analysis, which is needed independently, can be extended to interrogatives.

Thesis Supervisor:         Irene Heim

Title:                             Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy

Table of Contents

1          Embedded Interrogatives as open sentences                                                      10

            1.1       Quantificational Variability in Embedded Interrogatives              10

            1.2       Not all factives embed interrogatives                                                     16

            1.3       (Some) Nonfactives show QVE                                                            16

            1.4       Predicates of Surprise                                                                           26

            1.5       Predicates of Relevance                                                                        33

            1.6       Default Universal and Genericity                                                            37

            1.7       Embedded Interrogatives and Unselective Binding                                 39

            1.8       Summary of the present work                                                               42

2          Selection of Interrogative Complements                                                 43

            2.1       Introduction                                                                                          43

            2.2       S-selection and C-selection                                                                   44

            2.3       Berman (1990)                                                                         52

                        2.3.1    Essential Features                                                                     52

                        2.3.2    Factivity and the ability to take Interrogative complements         54

                        2.3.3    Question clauses and propositional wh-clauses              58

                        2.3.4    Conclusions                                                                              67

            2.4       Polarity and Embedded Wh-Complements                                            67

            2.5       Groenendijk & Stokhof (1981, 1989)                                                   69

            2.6       Spanish Interrogatives and Complement Selection                                 75

                        2.6.1    Introduction                                                                              76

                        2.6.2    Predicates of Communication in Spanish                                    76

                        2.6.3    Suner (1989)                                                                            81

                        2.6.4    Que as a Quotative marker                                                       85

                        2.6.5    Conclusions                                                                              97

            2.7       Conclusions from the Chapter                                                   97

3          Quantificational Variability in Embedded Interrogatives                          98

            3.1       Introduction                                                                                          98

            3.2       Questions and Answers                                                                        99

                        3.2.1    Hamblin and Karttunen on Questions                                        99

                        3.2.2    Partition Semantics                                                                   103

                        3.2.3    Quantifying into Questions                                                         107

                        3.2.4    Summary                                                                                  116

            3.3       Quantificational Variability                                                                     117

                        3.3.1    Introduction                                                                              117

                        3.3.2    Adverbials of Quantity and Frequency                           120

                        3.3.3    Amount Quantification                                                  130

                        3.3.4    Questions and Answers in Embedded Contexts             136

                        3.3.5    Answers and parts of Answers                                      144

            3.4       Conclusions                                                                                          158

            3.5       APPENDIX                                                                                         159

                        3.5.1    Modified Karttunen-Hamblin denotations                                  159

                        3.5.2    The definability of Partitional denotations from modified

Karttunen-Hamblin (MKH) denotations (in some cases)            159

                        3.5.3    Partial and Complete Answers                                      162

                        3.5.4    Quantification for Atomic Boolean Algebras                              164

                        3.5.5    The Boolean Algebra of Answers                                              168