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Nadine Theiler Colloquium

January 31, 2020 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Witness protection: A unified semantics for additive particles in assertions and questions

The English additive particle also can appear in assertions and polar questions, but not in canonical wh-questions:

(1)  Mary danced all night.
a. John also danced.
b. Did John also dance?
c. #Who also danced?

It has been suggested that when also appears in a wh-question, it triggers a so-called showmaster interpretation (Umbach, 2012), in which the speaker already has a certain answer in mind when asking the question.

In this talk, I will challenge this generalization based on a previously unnoticed class of questions, which I call summoning questions. To account for the resulting more differentiated empirical picture, I will generalize Beaver and Clark’s (2008) QUD-based account of additive particles by lifting it to an inquisitive semantics setting (Ciardelli et al., 2019). This allows us to capture the contribution of also in assertions and questions in a unified way, while still accounting for its distributional restrictions.


January 31, 2020
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm


18 Seminary Place, Room 108