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Non-Canonical Questions - Andreas Trotzke

Non-Canonical Questions

By: Andreas Trotzke

Hardcover | 16 February 2024

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This book is the first to present a comprehensive theory of non-canonical questions, those question types that do not (only) request information from the addressee, but rather (additionally) tell us something about the speaker's epistemic and/or emotional state, such as can't-find-the-value questions, echo questions, rhetorical questions, and surprise questions. While much recent research has explored the formal semantics and the phonetics and phonology of both canonical and non-canonical questions, the literature is still lacking a comprehensive account from a syntax-pragmatics perspective that brings together the multiple findings and strands of research from the last twenty years.

The standard view in the syntax-pragmatics literature is that most special interpretations of non-canonical questions involve syntactic projections at or even above the level of illocutionary force. In this work, Andreas Trotzke argues that this approach is a mistake, and proposes a new alternative theory of non-canonical questions in which both their special pragmatics and their syntax, as well as in many cases their emotive component, can be derived solely from propositional-level operators that do not affect the illocutionary level of utterances and can be found across illocutionary forces. This account dramatically simplifies the syntactic analysis of non-canonical questions and is also able to capture some previously unobserved data in the discourse behavior of those question types.

Industry Reviews
Adopting a syntactic approach, Andreas Trotzke provides a detailed account of all the main types of non-canonical questions - in situ questions, declarative questions, exclamatory questions - from a crosslinguistic perspective. Teasing apart emphasis and illocutionary force, he generalizes the role of emotional intensity and views emphatic word order as the expression of a propositional attitude that does not affect the illocutionary level. Interestingly, his demonstration encompasses the discourse effects of non-canonical questions, which are possibly used either as first moves or as second moves via pragmatic inferences. The book is a valuable addition to the literature on questions and non-canonicity, providing a wealth of information on indirect and mixed speech acts, and on the syntax-pragmatics interface. * Agnes Celle, Universite de Paris *
This book offers a fresh, comprehensive, and crosslinguistically well-grounded analysis of non-canonical questions, providing an in-depth investigation of both the syntactic and the pragmatic factors involved; the author also sketches a new framework encompassing the defining properties of non-canonical questions at the syntax-pragmatics interface by exploring the role of emotional intensity and expressivity and their linguistic encoding. This work represents a significant contribution to our understanding of the grammatical representation of the pragmatic dimension of human language, with interesting implications for the theory of speech acts. * Nicola Munaro, Ca' Foscari University of Venice *

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