Biased Questions and Hamblin Semantics
Anton Zimmerling
April 2024

This paper takes a stand on Hamblin semantics and its relation to the semantics-to-pragmatics interface. Biased questions, where the speaker finds one of the options more likely and expects the confirmation that p is true, raise a concern about the limits of Hamblin semantics. I argue that biased questions have modified Hamblin semantics, while unbiased questions have unconstrained Hamblin semantics. The optional bias feature explains compositionally. It is triggered by likelihood presuppositions ranging Hamblin sets and highlighting the preferred alternative(s). Biased effects are exceptionally possible in alternative and wh-questions, but only in polar questions, they can be encoded lexically and grammatically. I argue that Hamblin semantics covers all core types of questions, while some of its applications for non-questions are problematic.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/008027
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Typology of Morphosyntactic Parameters. 2023. Vol. 6. Iss. 2, 92-135. DOI: 10.37632/PI,2023.94.43.005
keywords: hamblin semantics, polar questions, semantics/pragmatics interface, semantics, syntax
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