June 15, 2007: Willemijn Vermaat, Continuing on questions and answers

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4:30pm, June 15, 2007
Lecture Room 1 (2005), 20th floor, National Institute of Informatics, (National Center of Sciences Bldg.).
Willemijn Vermaat, Victoria University of Wellington
Continuing on questions and answers

In Vermaat (2006), I have developed a logic of variation based on type-logic grammar to account for the syntax and semantics of wh-questions. Wh-questions such as "Where is Miffy going?" or "Who is taking Miffy to the sea?" carry information on the type of phrases that serve as possible answers to these questions, the adverbial phrase "To the sea" and "Father Bunny", respectively. In my thesis, I propose to analyse questions and answers as a syntactic unit, whereas semantically they are interpreted as a proposition. A more sensible approach, however, would be to look at questions and answers from a dynamic perspective and view answers as a `continuation' of a dialogue.

Continuations are a well-known technique in functional programming and have been studied in various type logics. Incorporating the answer type into the type assigned to wh-questions fits the idea of continuations. In a question-answer sequence, the answer could be seen as a continuation of the preceding context, the question. The idea of continuations can be exploited further by incorporating the context preceding the wh-question in the semantic type of wh-questions. The meaning of a wh-question, thus, abstracts over the meaning of its left and right contexts. In this talk I will explore the use of continuations for analysing wh-questions.

Vermaat, W. (2006). The Logic of Variation: a Cross-linguistic account of Wh-question Formation in type-logical grammar, PhD thesis, Utrecht University, UiL-OTS.

Semantics Research Group

Last modified: 2007-05-29 10:14:13 JST