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Explorations in polar question meaning and its variation


This project addresses polar question meaning and its variation by documenting and analyzing nuanced polar question meanings and their expressions across languages. Under current models of polar question meaning, meaning nuances across languages are heavily undergenerated and certain effects such as negative polarity licensing and forms of bias remain elusive. We use the idea of the Duality of primary polar question meanings introduced in the applicant’s recent work as a departure point, which defends a separation between polar and other propositional alternatives. This view makes correct predictions in the treatment of existing problems and generates hypotheses as to the limits and structural correlates of variation. The project will generate a crosslinguistically viable semantic model of polar question meaning and a framework of its variation based on a sizeable empirical contribution detailing polar question usage profiles from a diverse set of languages, elicited with a state-of-the-art twin questionnaire. The project combines advanced insights and techniques from the semantics and pragmatics of questions, semantic variation, and linguistic documentation, and is particularly timely in the context of the applicant’s recent work. The applicant and the host possess crucial, complementary skills in addressing these issues. The applicant is an expert in syntax, intonation and linguistic variation. The entire host institute and in particular the supervisors are world-renowned for their work on semantics and pragmatics, with a strong focus on questions. Their collaboration will thus create a unique opportunity to thoroughly reanalyze a central topic from multiple theoretical and empirical angles while furnishing the applicant with skills in semantics, pragmatics and advanced empirical methods with which she intends to launch further crossmodular linguistic variation projects and position herself as a leader in this domain of research.


Net EU contribution
€ 187 624,32
Spui 21
1012WX Amsterdam

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West-Nederland Noord-Holland Groot-Amsterdam
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
No data