LINGUIST List 15.1430

Wed May 5 2004

Books: Syntax/Phonology: Gunlogson

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  1. kkaneta, True to Form: Gunlogson

Message 1: True to Form: Gunlogson

Date: Thu, 29 Apr 2004 12:10:35 -0400 (EDT)
From: kkaneta <>
Subject: True to Form: Gunlogson

Title: True to Form
Subtitle: Rising and Falling Declaratives as Questions in English
Series Title: Outstanding Dissertations in Linguistics
Publication Year: 2003			
Publisher:	Routledge (Taylor and Francis)
Author: Christine Gunlogson, University of Rochester, New York 

Hardback: ISBN: 0415967813, Pages: 128, Price: U.S. $: 65

This book is concerned with the meaning and use of two kinds of
declarative sentences:

1) It's raining?
2) It's raining.

The difference between (1) and (2) is intonational: (1) has a final
rise--indicated by the question mark--while (2) ends with a fall.

Christine Gunlogson's central claim is that the meaning and use of
both kinds of sentences must be understood in terms of the meaning of
their defining formal elements, namely declarative sentence type and
rising versus falling intonation. Gunlogson supports that claim
through an investigation of the use of declaratives as questions. On
one hand, Gunlogson demonstrates that rising and falling declaratives
share an aspect of conventional meaning attributable to their
declarative form, distinguishing them both from the corresponding
polar interrogative (Is it raining?) and constraining their use as
questions. On the other hand, since (1) and (2) constitute a minimal
pair, differing only in intonation, systematic differences in
character and function between them--in particular, the relative
"naturalness" of (1) as a question compared to (2) --must be located
in the contrast between the fall and the rise.

To account for these two sets of differences, Gunlogson gives a
compositional account of rising and falling declaratives under which
declarative form expresses commitment to the propositional content of
the declarative. Rising versus falling intonation on declaratives is
responsible for attribution of the commitment to the Addressee versus
the Speaker, respectively. The result is an inherent contextual "bias"
associated with declaratives, which constitutes the crucial point of
difference with interrogatives. The compositional analysis is
implemented in the framework of context update semantics (Heim 1982
and others), using an articulated version of the Common Ground
(Stalnaker 1978) that distinguishes the commitments of the individual
discourse participants.

Restrictions on the use of declaratives as questions, as well as
differences between rising and falling declaratives as questions, are
shown to follow from this account. Gunlogson argues that neither
rising nor falling declaratives are inherently questioning--rather,
the questioning function of declaratives arises through the
interaction of sentence type, intonation, and context.

Lingfield(s):	Phonology 
Written In: English (Language Code: English)

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