The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Linguistics Colloquium 11/2 - Satoshi Tomioka

Speaker: Satoshi Tomioka (University of Delaware)
Date/Time: 3:30 – 5pm
Venue: 32-D461
Title: Conventionally Implicated Questions


There is a type of adjunct (unselected) embedded question in Korean and Japanese that is unlike any known type of embedded question. The form itself is innocuous; Q, p. Its meaning, however, seems rather complex. (I) The speaker asserts p, and (II) the speaker does not know the answer to Q, but (iii) the speaker speculates that the answer to Q would be a reasonable/likely cause of p. We argue that this type of embedded question is functionally a root questions but belongs to the conventional implicature (CI) tier in the sense of Potts (2005). We therefore claim that the domain of CI be expanded so as to include question meaning as well. It will also be shown that the speaker’s ignorance and the speaker’s speculation on the causal link can be derived pragmatically, making it unnecessary to represent them in the semantic representation.