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Why we should ever bother about wh-questions: On NPI-licensing properties of wh-questions in Swedish

Brandtler, Johan LU (2008) In Working Papers in Scandinavian Syntax 81. p.83-121
Abstract
This paper is an attempt to solve the somewhat elusive polarity item licensing properties of wh-questions in Swedish. As has been observed by Klima (1964) for English, NPIs are gener¬ally not compatible with genuinely information seeking wh-questions, but tend to induce rhe¬torical interpretations. Distin-guishing between three types of wh-questions and the kind of information they request, I will systematically review the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic properties of each wh-type. Based on that overview, I argue that NPI-licensing in wh-ques¬tions is dependent on the relation between the implication of exis-tence associated with the wh-word and the presupposition induced by the expressed proposition. According to my analysis, wh-words... (More)
This paper is an attempt to solve the somewhat elusive polarity item licensing properties of wh-questions in Swedish. As has been observed by Klima (1964) for English, NPIs are gener¬ally not compatible with genuinely information seeking wh-questions, but tend to induce rhe¬torical interpretations. Distin-guishing between three types of wh-questions and the kind of information they request, I will systematically review the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic properties of each wh-type. Based on that overview, I argue that NPI-licensing in wh-ques¬tions is dependent on the relation between the implication of exis-tence associated with the wh-word and the presupposition induced by the expressed proposition. According to my analysis, wh-words should not be regarded as NPI-licensing operators. Being place-holders, wh-words inherit whatever properties are associated with the item they replace. The licensing property of the wh-word is thus dependent on the licensing property of the referent. Thus, only wh-words referring to downward entailing expressions will license NPIs in their scope (e.g. when pointing to an empty set). Such wh-questions tend to be interpreted rhetorically. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
polarity, wh-questions, negation, presupposition, implicature
in
Working Papers in Scandinavian Syntax
volume
81
pages
83 - 121
publisher
Scandinavian language department, Lund university
ISSN
1100-097X
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
b0a08ba2-8499-4236-ae9f-30c9e4bfe568 (old id 1296041)
date added to LUP
2009-02-19 15:14:58
date last changed
2016-04-16 02:36:57
@article{b0a08ba2-8499-4236-ae9f-30c9e4bfe568,
  abstract     = {This paper is an attempt to solve the somewhat elusive polarity item licensing properties of wh-questions in Swedish. As has been observed by Klima (1964) for English, NPIs are gener¬ally not compatible with genuinely information seeking wh-questions, but tend to induce rhe¬torical interpretations. Distin-guishing between three types of wh-questions and the kind of information they request, I will systematically review the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic properties of each wh-type. Based on that overview, I argue that NPI-licensing in wh-ques¬tions is dependent on the relation between the implication of exis-tence associated with the wh-word and the presupposition induced by the expressed proposition. According to my analysis, wh-words should not be regarded as NPI-licensing operators. Being place-holders, wh-words inherit whatever properties are associated with the item they replace. The licensing property of the wh-word is thus dependent on the licensing property of the referent. Thus, only wh-words referring to downward entailing expressions will license NPIs in their scope (e.g. when pointing to an empty set). Such wh-questions tend to be interpreted rhetorically.},
  author       = {Brandtler, Johan},
  issn         = {1100-097X},
  keyword      = {polarity,wh-questions,negation,presupposition,implicature},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {83--121},
  publisher    = {Scandinavian language department, Lund university},
  series       = {Working Papers in Scandinavian Syntax},
  title        = {Why we should ever bother about wh-questions: On NPI-licensing properties of wh-questions in Swedish},
  volume       = {81},
  year         = {2008},
}