Abstract: This article is concerned with the analysis of ‘short’ or ‘fragment’ answers to questions, and the relationship between these and the hypothesis of direct compositionality (DC) (e.g. Montague 1970). DC claims that the syntax and semantics work ‘in tandem’ to prove expressions well formed, while at the same time assigning them a meaning (a model-theoretic object). DC makes it difficult to state any kind of identity condition for ‘ellipsis’ and would hence lead one to suspect that short answers do not contain hidden linguistic material. This article argues that they indeed do not. Rather, as proposed in Groenendijk & Stokhof 1984, the question and short answer together form a linguistic unit, which I call a Qu-Ans, whose semantics gives the proposition that is understood as following from the pair. Three new arguments are adduced for the Qu-Ans analysis over one making use of silent linguistic material, and a core class of traditional arguments for silent linguistic material are answered. Moreover, it is shown that many of the traditional arguments for silent linguistic material themselves presuppose a non-DC architecture. If (as is claimed) these arguments do not hold, the Qu-Ans analysis of short answers actually supports the DC view, under which no use is made of logical form, and no use is made of representational constraints on structure.
Language – Linguistic Society of America
Published: Jun 28, 2016
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