Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Weak Island Semantics$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Márta Abrusán

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199639380

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199639380.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 17 July 2019



(p.135) 4 Wh-Islands*
Weak Island Semantics

Márta Abrusán

Oxford University Press

This chapter proposes that the maximal informativity requirement can also explain why wh-islands arise. The first part of the chapter discusses degree questions. In Section 4.2 I show that verbs fall into different subclasses with respect to the question whether they introduce weak islands or not. Degree questions with responsive predicates such as know, can never receive a maximally informative answer, and are thus unacceptable in any context. Degree questions with inquisitive predicates such as wonder, however, are not derived to be ungrammatical; nevertheless, they are predicted to have a most informative true answer only in very special and unnatural contexts, which renders them pragmatically odd. Once such a context is supplied, the questions improve. In the first case the unacceptability of wh-islands can be derived both by using the classical- and the interval-based degree semantics. Section 4.3 discusses the case of context sensitivity of degree wh-islands as well as the cases of modal obviation. Section 4.4 examines wh-islands with manner questions. In sum, this chapter suggests that Kroch’s (1989) informal account of wh-islands, introduced in Chapter 1 of this book, was on the right track, and provides an explanation for why in certain cases most informative answers are impossible or contextually restricted.

Keywords:   weak islands, wh-islands, semantics of questions, semantics of question-embedding words, intervention, locality principles

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .