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Inquisitive Semantics$

Ivano Ciardelli, Jeroen Groenendijk, and Floris Roelofsen

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198814788

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198814788.001.0001

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(p.vii) General preface

(p.vii) General preface

Inquisitive Semantics

Ivano Ciardelli

Jeroen Groenendijk

Floris Roelofsen

Oxford University Press

Oxford Surveys in Semantics and Pragmatics aims to convey to the reader the life and spirit of the study of meaning in natural language. Its volumes provide distillations of the central empirical questions driving research in contemporary semantics and pragmatics, and distinguish the most important lines of inquiry into these questions. Each volume offers the reader an overview of the topic at hand, a critical survey of the major approaches to it, and an assessment of what consensus (if any) exists. By putting empirical puzzles and theoretical debates into a comprehensible perspective, each author seeks to provide orientation and direction to the topic, thereby providing the context for a deeper understanding of both the complexity of the phenomena and the crucial features of the semantic and pragmatic theories designed to explain them. The books in the series offer researchers in linguistics and related areas—including syntax, cognitive science, computer science, and philosophy—both a valuable resource for instruction and reference and a state-of-the-art perspective on contemporary semantic and pragmatic theory from the experts shaping the field.

In this volume, Ivano Ciardelli, Jeroen Groenendijk, and Floris Roelofsen provide the first comprehensive introduction to Inquisitive Semantics, a theory of linguistic meaning that aims to unify the analysis of declarative and interrogative sentences. Unlike traditional models of meaning, which distinguish declaratives and interrogatives either in terms of semantic type or in terms of force, Inquisitive Semantics builds an integrated analysis of both sentence types around a particular formalization of information states, called “issues.” In the first part of this book, Ciardelli, Groenendijk, and Roelofsen lay out the formal foundations of the theory, showing how it provides a general representation of semantic content and conversational contexts. In the second part, they demonstrate the generality of the framework by first applying it to the analysis of multiple types of interrogatives, extending it to the analysis of disjunction, conditionals and propositional attitudes, and finally comparing it to previous analyses of questions. With its clear exposition, detailed formalization, substantive discussion of empirical phenomena, and carefully constructed exercises in inquisitive (p.viii) semantic analysis, this book provides newcomers to the framework with a much-needed introduction, and experienced researchers with a valuable resource for further exploring its applications.

Chris Barker

New York University

Christopher Kennedy

University of Chicago