Edgar Onea Gáspár

Raising and answering questions in discourse and grammar

As argued in van Kuppevelt (1995), assertions play a dual role in the erotetic structure of discourse. On the one hand, they answer some question under discussion, but on the other hand, they may also act as „feeders“ for novel questions to be discussed in discourse. While the first aspect has been very much discussed in recent linguistic literature following up on Roberts (1996), the second aspect has gone widely unnoticed, because there was no grammatical implication of the claim. In Onea (2016) I have argued that natural language grammar is sensitive to this dual nature of assertions, showing for example how the semantics of indefinites relates to the way in which questions are licensed by assertions in discourse. In the talk I will concentrate on nominal appositives and non-restrictive relative clauses. I will propose an analysis of these constructions as answering a QUD raised by the host matrix clause. In trying to formally capture this, I will introduce the notion of potential questions and propose a certain number of constraints on the erotetic structure of discourse. One important topic will be the asymmetry of speaker and addressee based handling of the common ground information and assumptions about salient questions at any time in discourse development.