Two types of speaker’s ignorance over the epistemic space in Korean

Arum Kang, Suwon Yoon


The main goal of this paper is to propose a novel paradigm of the split epistemic ignorance, based on two morphologically related particles in Korean: inka in wh-indefinites vs. nka in modalized questions. Previous literature assumes the interrogative-indefinite affinity as a reflex of a semantic relationship between interrogative markers and indefinites by introducing a set of propositional alternatives (Alternative Semantics: Kratzer and Shimoyama 2002; Alonso-Ovalle 2006, a.o.). However, we challenge these claims by showing that inka and nka are distinct lexical items which are distributed in different clause types, hence, a new split for the ignorance system is called for. We propose a semantics under which inka and nka variants are relativized to the epistemic state of the speaker, M(i) (Giannakidou 1995 et seq.). In particular, we show that: (i) the common denominator of nka and inka is the fact that they both express the speaker’s epistemic indeterminacy; but (ii) the crucial difference arises from a strict dichotomy between the types of alternatives that nka and inka introduce, i.e., the propositional alternatives for nka vs. the individual alternatives for inka


wh-indeterminates; modalized questions; anti-specificity; epistemic alternatives

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