Questions and Answers in a Context-Dependent Montague Grammar

  • Roland Hausser
  • Dietmar Zaefferer
Part of the Synthese Language Library book series (SLAP, volume 4)


A successful formal reconstruction of a fragment of a natural language like the one presented in Montague (1973)1 calls for extensions in various directions. Two of the most challenging ones among them are the inclusion of non-declarative sentence moods and a treatment of context-dependency beyond the interpretation of tense. The present paper advances some steps in both directions since we believe that dealing with context-dependency is a prerequisite for a satisfactory treatment of interrogatives. While transformationalists tend to regard interrogatives in isolation,2 scholars interested in the semantics of natural language, both outside the Montague school (e.g., Keenan and Hull, 1973) and inside (e.g., Hamblin, 1973), have noted the relation that links up questions with their possible answers. Montague himself suggests3 that a syntax and semantics of interrogatives should provide a characterization of the semantic content of a correct answer. Whether a certain expression counts as a correct answer, however, depends on the context in which it is uttered. An appropriate context has to contain an utterance of a corresponding interrogative expression. Therefore we shall tackle the problem from the rear. First we ask: What are the expressions that may serve as answers when uttered in an appropriate context and how are they interpreted?


Direct Question Question Word Existential Quantifier Declarative Sentence Illocutionary Force 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roland Hausser
    • 1
  • Dietmar Zaefferer
    • 1
  1. 1.Universität MünchenDeutschland

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