Questions in Discourse

Amsterdam University of Amsterdam, Building REC-M, Room S.01, Plantage Muidergracht 12, 1018 TV Amsterdam (map and directions)

The workshop is concerned with the semantics and pragmatics of questions, question-embedding expressions, and constructions that are sensitive to the questions that are under discussion in a given discourse (e.g. topic and focus markers). Several directions in this area have been explored in recent work and some important progress has been made.

On the one hand, it has been shown that the questions that are under discussion in a given discourse, affect the interpretation of utterances in that discourse more radically than previously assumed. For instance, the interpretation of discourse particles seems to strongly depend on the question under discussion (Beaver & Clark 2008) and even classical phenomena such as presupposition projection have been argued to depend on the question under discussion in a substantial way (Tonhauser, Beaver, Roberts, and Simons 2013).

On the other hand, recent developments in inquisitive semantics (e.g., Ciardelli, Groenendijk & Roelofsen 2013) have led to a new general notion of meaning, which encompasses both informative and inquisitive content in a uniform way. This gives rise to a new perspective on the meaning of inquisitive expressions in natural language, their semantic interaction with connectives and embedding verbs, as well as their role in pragmatics, e.g., in computing quantity implicatures and in determining the focus structure of answers.

The workshop welcomes both theoretical work and empirical case studies that contribute either to these particular lines of research, or more broadly to the semantics and pragmatics of questions and other inquisitive expressions, as well as constructions whose form and/or interpretation depend on the questions under discussion in a given discourse.

The workshop is part of a series of events organized by the DFG Research Network on Questions in Discourse.



Edgar Onea University of Göttingen

Floris Roelofsen University of Amsterdam

Malte Zimmermann Potsdam University


Mandy Simons Carnegie Mellon University

Matthijs Westera ILLC, Univ. of Amsterdam


Daniel Hole Stuttgart University


Tania Rojas-Esponda Stanford

Edgar Onea Georg August Uni. Göttingen


Hans Kamp Stuttgart University


Katja Jasinskaja ZAS, Berlin

Ivano Ciardelli ILLC, Univ. of Amsterdam


Arndt Riester Stuttgart University

Jeroen Groenendijk ILLC, Univ. of Amsterdam


David Beaver University of Texas, Austin


Collocated events

Hotel recommendation

We can recommend the Lancaster hotel. It’s affordable and close to the venue of the workshop. It is also close to the venue of the Amsterdam Colloquium and SemDial, and many people attending these events will most likely be staying there. But of course Amsterdam has plenty of other choices of accommodation to offer as well.


Time Speaker Topic
Monday December 16
9.30 - 10.00 Coffee / tea
10.00 - 11.30 Keynote: Mandy Simons The best question: explaining the projectivity of factives
11.30 - 12.15 Matthijs Westera Contrastive topic: a compositional account in terms of non-cooperativity
12.15 - 14.00 Lunch
14.00 - 14.45 Daniel Hole Only a distributed syntax for evaluative nur in German
14.45 - 15.30 Tania Rojas-Esponda Themes from discourse particles: a QUD-based perspective
15.30 - 15.45 Break
15.45 - 16.30 Edgar Onea Infefinites and questions under discussion
Tuesday December 17
8.30 - 9.00 Coffee / tea
9.00 - 10.30 Keynote: Hans Kamp Questions in Mind
10.30 - 10.45 Break
10.45 - 11.30 Katja Jasinskaja On the role of the QUD and ellipsis in adversative coordination
11.30 - 12.15 Ivano Ciardelli Question meanings = resolution conditions
12.15 - 14.00 Lunch
14.00 - 14.45 Arndt Riester Anarchy in the NP. When new nouns get deaccented and given nouns don't
14.45 - 15.30 Jeroen Groenendijk Toch and toch? in Dutch: an inquisitive semantic-pragmatic analysis
15.30 - 15.45 Break
15.45 - 16.30 David Beaver Beyond a taxonomy of projective content