Donka Farkas (University of California, Santa Cruz): The interpretation of declaratives and interrogatives: How semantics and conventions of use divide labor
Speaker: Donka Farkas (University of California, Santa Cruz)
Title: The interpretation of declaratives and interrogatives: How semantics and conventions of use divide labor
This talk presents an account of the semantics and discourse effects of falling and rising
declaratives, polar interrogatives, and tag interrogatives in English. One of its major goals
is to divide the labor between compositional semantics and conventions of use in a principled way. It argues that falling declaratives and rising polar interrogatives are unmarked sentence types, and as such, the differences in their conventional discourse effects follow from independently motivated semantic differences, combined with a single, default convention of use. As a result, the Fregean `illocutionary force' operators Assertion and Question become unnecessary. In contrast, rising declaratives and tag interrogatives are marked sentence types whose discourse effects consist of the default effects, which they share with unmarked sentence types, augmented with special effects that are systematically connected to their formal properties. A central feature of the approach is that it maintains a parallelism between unmarked and marked sentence types on the one hand, and default and non-default discourse effects on the other.