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.
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