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Unfortunate questions

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Abstract

This paper examines the semantic properties of evaluative adverbs, such as <i>unfortunately</i>, in question environments in French. We take Bonami and Godard&#8217;s (2008) analysis for <i>malheureusement</i> (&#8216;unfortunately&#8217;) in declarative sentences, where such propositional adverbs are analyzed as ancillary commitments, and extend it to a broader array of data, including polar and <i>wh</i>-questions. In a nutshell, we argue that <i>malheureusement</i> can take as input a set of propositions, which triggers an indifference interpretation of the sort that characterizes unconditional sentences. We also show that evaluatives may take a proposition as argument when they occur in polar questions, the only restriction occurring in negative polar questions, where biases are decisive in making the sentence acceptable.

References

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