Attitudes in discourse Italian polar questions and the particle mica

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Ilaria Frana
Kyle Rawlins


This paper explores ways in which discourse participants convey an attitude about another discourse participant’s conversational move. We examine the semantics/pragmatics of Italian positive and negative polar questions (building on the literature on biased questions) and propose the first fully compositional analysis of the Italian particle ‘mica’, appearing in negative polar questions and negative assertions. The core is that ‘mica’ is member of a family of presuppositional, epistemic ‘common ground management’ operators, leading to a new account of epistemic inferences in biased polar questions that relies on the presuppositional nature of these operators. We argue that ‘mica’ is a high-left-periphery particle that indicates a presupposed bias against a proposition being added to the common ground, anchored uniformly to the speaker and therefore not showing ‘interrogative flip’. The paper develops connections between common-ground management operators and evidentials, arguing that interrogative flip (and lack thereof) is a phenomenon that should be studied for a wide variety of discourse particles.

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Ilaria Frana, University of Enna "Kore"

Assistant Prof.

Kyle Rawlins, Johns Hopkins University

Associate Prof.