Interrogatives, Instructions, and I-languages: An I-Semantics for Questions

Terje Lohndal and Paul Pietroski

It is often said that the meaning of an interrogative sentence is a set of answers. This raises questions about how the meaning of an interrogative is compositionally determined, especially if one adopts an I-language perspective. By contrast, we argue that I-languages generate semantic instructions (SEMs) for how to assemble concepts of a special sort and then prepare these concepts for various uses - e.g., in declaring, querying, or assembling concepts of still further complexity. We connect this abstract conception of meaning to a specific (minimalist) conception of complementizer phrase edges, with special attention to wh-questions and their relative clause counterparts. The proposed syntax and semantics illustrates a more general conception of edges and their relation to the so-called duality of semantics.