The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Colloquium 3/4 - Veneeta Dayal

Speaker: Veneeta Dayal (Rutgers)
Title: List Answers through Higher Order Questions
Date: Friday, March 4th
Time: 3:30-5:00 PM
Place: 32-141

Higher order questions have been invoked in the context of local as well as long-distance list answers. List answers to multiple wh questions and questions with quantifiers display functionality: domain cover and one-one/many-one pairings. One proposal for capturing this functionality involves iterating the question forming operation by projecting a double C structure. This results in a family of questions. Distributing an answerhood operator over the members of this set and intersecting the result yields the right type of list (Hagstrom 1998, Fox 2012). This talk explores the possibility of extending the proposal to scope marking constructions. Two problems are noted, one having to do with the absence of the truth requirement in these constructions, the other with restrictions on the type of predicate that can participate in scope marking. Higher order questions have also been used to explain list answers across wh islands (Dayal 1996). An embedded multiple wh question, interpreted as a family of questions, enters into a functional dependency with a wh expression in the matrix clause, resulting in a long-distance pair-list answer. This account is challenged by the phenomenon of trapped pair-lists (Ratiu 2005 and Cheng and Demirdache 2010), which seems to disallow a matrix wh from pairing up with one embedded wh to the exclusion of its clause-mate wh. Looking at this range of facts suggests that higher order questions do play a role in list answers, but not for all list answers.