Daniel Goodhue · [S-Lab] (Exceptionally on Thursday) Practice talk (Sinn und Bedeutung): High negation questions and epistemic bias
High negation questions—questions like "Isn't it nice out?"—necessarily convey that the speaker is epistemically biased, i.e., the speaker has a prior belief about the correct answer to the question. In particular, the speaker necessarily expresses bias toward the proposition embedded under the high negation. Low negation questions, on the other hand, are merely compatible with such a bias, and can be used when the speaker is not epistemically biased. Romero & Han (2004) demonstrate that this asymmetry holds in several languages, some unrelated. This remarkable crosslinguistic fact merits explanation. In particular, what role does the structural height of negation play in triggering this epistemic bias? In this talk, I present novel evidence demonstrating that high negation questions lack propositional negation. This evidence is taken to support Ladd's suggestion that high negation is somehow outside of the proposition (Ladd, 1981), and is used to motivate Krifka's analysis of high negation as a special negation operator that scopes above a syntactically represented speech act operator. I argue that this analysis of high negation enables a novel account of epistemic bias that predicts its context insensitivity.