Linguistics and English Language

Meaning and grammar seminar

Speaker: Wataru Uegaki (University of Edinburgh)

Title: Factivity alternation and the ‘missing’ veridical reading of interrogative complements

Abstract: In a number of languages, some clause-embedding predicates exhibit 'factivity alternation', i.e., they allow both factive and non-factive interpretation with respect to declarative complements, depending on the choice of the complementation strategy (Lee & Hong 2016, Jeong 2020 on Korean; Özyıldız 2017 on Turkish; Hanink & Bochnak 2017 on Washo; Bondarenko 2020 on Barguzin Buryat). It is furthermore observed in Turkish and Buryat that the same predicates that license factivity alternation nevertheless only allow a veridical interpretation of interrogative complements (Bondarenko 2019; Özyıldız 2019). That is, the predicates disallow a non-veridical interpretation wrt interrogative complements, even though we might expect them to exist from theoretical considerations (Spector & Egre 2015). In this talk, I will provide a concrete analysis of a sub-case of the same observation in Japanese. Although predicates such as “shiru” (learn/know), “setsumei-suru” (explain) and “odoroku” (surprise) exhibit factivity alternation, they only license veridical interpretations of interrogative complements. Following earlier literature (e.g., Saito 2012, Shimamura 2018; Tomioka 2020), I will argue that (what is traditionally described as) declarative complements in Japanese allow a parse as an adjunct while interrogative complements are true (nominal) arguments of embedding predicates. Together with the assumption that predicates place a presupposition only to its arguments (cf. Bondarenko 2020), we can derive the obligatory veridical interpretation with respect to interrogative complements. I will also discuss implications of the proposal for the cross-linguistic analysis of different types of embedding strategies, as well as for the analysis of the recurring observations in the literature that question-embedding correlates with veridicality (i.e., that question-embedding predicates are typically veridical; Egre 2008; the observation that, although communication predicates like “tell” readily allow non-veridical interpretation with respect to declarative complements, their interpretation with respect to interrogative complements are---at least typically---veridical (Karttunen 1977; Groenendijk & Stokhof 2015; Spector & Egre 2015, a.o.))


Seminars are organised by the meaning and grammar research group.

Meaning and grammar research group

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Nov 15 2022 -

Meaning and grammar seminar

2022-11-15: Factivity alternation and the ‘missing’ veridical reading of interrogative complements

Room 4.3, Lister Learning & Teaching Centre, 5 Roxburgh Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9SU