Unconcealed Questions

Nicholas Fleisher


Which price does John know? This sentence exemplifies what I call an unconcealed question (UQ): a sentence with a structure and meaning analogous to those of an ordinary concealed question (CQ), but where the sentence is interrogative in form and interpretation, with the relevant DP headed by which. Such examples are almost completely unstudied in the otherwise wide-ranging CQ literature. As I show, UQs exhibit a proper subset of the ambiguities that have been observed for ordinary CQs. In particular, UQs lack what is known as Reading B, where a relative clause (or other modifying adjunct) containing the relevant sort of predicate is interpreted in the scope of the higher CQ-selecting predicate (e.g. know). I survey the properties of UQs and evaluate the CQ theories currently on the market in light of the UQ data, concluding tentatively that the absence of Reading B is the result of syntactic factors whose description is straightforward but whose explanation remains murky.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3765/salt.v30i0.4807

Copyright (c) 2021 Nicholas Fleisher