Understanding WH-Interrogatives
in Terms of Inferential Roles
A View from the Philosophy of Language

Talk presented to the Pronouns: Representation and Grammar workshop of the Annual Conference of the German Society for Linguistics (DGfS-2000).

Brief summary

The work discussed in this talk is grounded in an Inferential Role Semantics that derives from writings of Wittgenstein, Gentzen, Belnap, and which is presented explicitly in the work of Michael Dummett, that puts assertions and inferences from assertions and hypothese to other assertions, at the centre of an approach to the philosophy of language.

The talk applied this semantics to questions, making use of the set-theoretic theory of questions due to Martin Stokhof, but reinterpreted this in constructive type theory, as per that of Per Martin-Löf. Some advantages to doing it this way were discussed.

This semantical theory is applied to the case of WH-interrogatives as they appear in subordinate clauses.

The full abstract, as it appeared in the DGfS programme, is available (PDF, 2 pages, 1999), as is the talk handout (PDF, 2 pages, 2000).