Exhaustivity in questions with non-factives

Daniel Rothschild, Nathan Klinedinst


This paper is concerned with the conditions under which a person can be said to have told someone or predicted (the answer to a question like) 'who sang'. It is standardly claimed that while (i) the true answer must be completely specified, it is not necessary that (ii) it be specified *as being* the complete answer. Here the non-factive verbs 'tell' and 'predict' are said to differ from the factive verb 'know', which typically does impose the *strong exhaustivity* requirement in (ii). We argue for an intermediate reading of 'tell' and 'predict' that requires more than (i) but less than (ii). To account for this reading we claim that the exhaustivity requirement (ii) imposed by 'know' is due to an operator than can apply non-locally. Applying the operator above a non-factive verb derives the intermediate reading, whereas doing so is vacuous in the case of factives. Thus, we derive the intermediate reading, and differences in the exhaustivity requirements imposed by factives and non-factives, without lexical stipulation.


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questions, exhaustivity, implicature, focus, type-shifting

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/sp.4.2

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

ISSN: 1937-8912

Journal doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/sp