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


  • Arum Kang University of Chicago
  • Suwon Yoon University of Texas, Austin



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


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.




How to Cite

Kang, Arum, and Suwon Yoon. 2016. “Two Types of speaker’s Ignorance over the Epistemic Space in Korean”. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 1 (June): 21:1–15.