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Communication or memory mismatch?

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Abstract

Questions are traditionally interpreted as a universal strategy in human language that invites the addressee to share his/her knowledge with the speaker. Hence, questions are seen as a basic property of human communication. However, from a cognitive point of view, it may be asked whether questions (together with their constructional representations) reflect a specific state of cognition, conceptualized in terms of interrogativity. Referring to the framework of Radical Experientialism (Cognitive Typology in linguistic terms), I will propose a model of interrogativity that concentrates on the meaning of questions as such. It will be argued that interrogativity is the immediate reflex of a memory mismatch that may occur when processing outer world stimuli. Its most prototypical (and embodied) expression is that of pitch variation, frequently accompanied by secondary mismatch echoes that can be grammaticalized as question morphemes, particles, tags and so on. The communicative value of questions is viewed as a secondary cognitive hypothesis on mismatch mapping strategies in an interindividual setting.

References

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