Beáta Gyuris: The semantics of interrogatives and the pragmatics of questions

The aim of this two-week course is to discuss selected approaches to

  • how the meaning of (main and subordinate) interrogative clauses can be formally modelled, and
  • how restrictions on the uses of different types of interrogatives for realizing question acts of particular kinds can be described and predicted.

In the first half of the course, we review the central claims of some of the most influential semantic theories of interrogatives, including the functional approach (Jacobs 1983, Stechow 1990, Krifka 2002), the proposition-set approach (Hamblin 1973, Karttunen 1977, Groenendijk and Stokhof 1984, Dayal 2016) and the theory of inquisitive semantics (Ciardelli, Groenendijk and Roelofsen 2019).

In the second half of the course we consider how, beyond their default association with standard questions acts (Searle 1969), interrogative clauses can be employed for a wide variety of “special” uses. These have been classified, among others, as biased, rhetorical, reflective, surprise-and-disapproval, exam and quiz questions. Such special uses can be signaled by special grammatical means – prosody, word order, particles etc. – giving rise to “special interrogatives” in many languages. The course intends to review systematic descriptions and theoretical modelings of some of these form-use correspondences in a selected range of languages (including Hungarian).