Focus marking in questions

This ongoing project aims to develop a better understanding of the interaction between the alternatives often assumed to be generated by disjunction, question alternatives and focus alternatives.

As a case study, I look into the different interpretations of disjunctive questions, and how they are disambiguated by their prosody. I investigate to what extent the different interpretations of these questions can really be derived from differences in their underlying syntactic structure—as is often assumed, and I look into the possibility of deriving these interpretations from differences in focus marking in a more direct way. [poster] [paper] [handout]

Coordinating questions

In my MSc thesis (written in the inquisitive semantics group, supervised by Floris Roelofsen), I looked into several puzzles concerning the interaction between questions on the one hand, and conjunction and disjunction on the other.

In this paper with Floris Roelofsen, we focus on one of those puzzles: we show that a conjunction of two polar interrogative clauses is interpreted so that each conjunct involves a polar question operator and the conjunction takes scope over these, whereas a disjunction of two polar interrogative clauses can only be interpreted as involving a single polar question operator scoping over the disjunction. In other words, two full-fledged polar questions each including their own question operator can be conjoined, but cannot be disjoined. We argue that the source of this contrast is semantic (rather than syntactic, pragmatic, or other), and we formulate two general constraints on question meanings which can each account for it.

Anaphora resolution in discourse

While cue-based retrieval became well accepted and maybe even the default model in case of agreement resolution and other intra-clausal dependencies, very little is known about dependents that operate across a discourse.

In this joint project with Jakub Dotlačil, we therefore investigate memory retrieval needed for pronoun resolution in short discourses. In particular, we use the notion of accessibility as introduced in Discourse Representation Theory to look into the resolution of cross-sentential anaphora. [poster]


Experimenting with Free Choice disjunction

In this project with Jonathan Pesetsky, Grzegorz Lisowski and Alexandre Cremers, we look into the availability of free choice readings of sentences with a disjunction and a deontic modal. Most importantly, we show that free choice readings are also available for disjunctions that take wide scope over the modal, but only when the context specifies the speaker as being knowledgeable of what is allowed and what is not allowed. [manuscript] [slides]