• ISSN 0774-5141
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9676
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This paper addresses certain restrictions on the use of declaratives as questions in English. Declaratives are taken to express commitment by the speaker, even in a questioning use. The analysis traces the restrictions to two distinct contextual factors: (i) a general principle requiring that a commitment have a recognized source, i.e., a discourse agent who plausibly has independent evidence supporting the content committed to; (ii) specific to a questioning interpretation, the need for the context to support the inference that the speaker’s commitment depends upon the addressee’s anticipated confirmation. Rising intonation contributes a very general element of meaning, indicating that the utterance it marks is contingent upon some discourse condition obtaining; the specific conditions required for a questioning interpretation instantiate one such type of contingency. The proposals are modeled via elaboration of standard contextual structures in a possible-worlds framework.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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