Questions in Discourse

March 7-9, 2012, Frankfurt am Main
Organized by Edgar Onea and Floris Roelofsen

Invited speakers

Anti-matters
David Beaver (University of Texas, Austin)

An inquisitive semantics with witnesses (slides, paper)
Jeroen Groenendijk (University of Amsterdam)

'Even' gives even more information: Scalar particles and discourse structure (slides)
Malte Zimmermann (Universität Potsdam)

Accepted papers

Free Choice in Deontic Inquisitive Semantics (slides)
Martin Aher (Universität Osnabrück)

Embedded Clauses and the Question Under Discussion (slides)
Mailin Antomo (Universität Göttingen)

Causality and at-issueness: some insights from German subordinate connective "da"
Maria Averintseva-Klisch (University of Tübingen) and Anna Volodina (IDS, Mannheim)

Or what? (slides)
María Biezma (Carleton University) and Kyle Rawlins (Johns Hopkins University)

Exhaustivity across questions
Constantin Freitag (ZAS, Berlin), Katja Jasinskaja (ZAS, Berlin) and Fabienne Salfner (ZAS, Berlin)

Finnish -hAn and the QUD
Anisa Schardl (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Workshop description

The workshop focuses on the interaction of form and meaning of linguistic expressions with questions in discourse. It is well known that such an interaction exists, for instance, focus in an answer often corresponds to the wh-word in an explicit or implicit question, and some verbs can even embed overt or concealed questions. Recently, however, important progress has been achieved in this regard.

On the one hand, it has been shown that questions, in particular the question under discussion, affects the interpretation of natural language utterances more deeply than previously assumed, for instance, the interpretation of discourse particles seem to strongly depend on the question under discussion (Beaver & Clark 2008) and even classical phenomena such as presupposition projection have recently been argued to depend on the question under discussion in a substantial way (Simons et al 2010).

On the other hand, recent developments in Inquisitive Semantics (Groenendijk & Roelofsen 2009) suggests that the class of natural language expressions that give rise to alternatives and invite the hearer to choose between these alternative includes not only questions but also all kinds of expressions related to disjunction and indefinites. This gives a new perspective on the meaning of natural language expressions in general as suggesting one or more potential updates of the common ground, and it gives rise to new tools in pragmatics e.g. for the computation of quantity implicatures and the grammatical structure of answers. 

The workshop hosts both theoretical work and empirical case studies that discuss the ways in which questions can be captured in a discourse model, the interaction of questions with the interpretation of other expressions, and the inquisitive nature of disjunctive, indefinite, and interrogative constructions.