Technical Report LCL9802

Title: The Semantics of Temporal Questions
Authors: Rani Nelken and Nissim Francez
Abstract: Despite the considerable amount of literature on the two subjects of the semantics of temporality and of interrogative sentences, only little work has been done on their interaction. In this paper, we provide a semantic interpretation of temporal questions. We combine the analysis of sentences modified by temporal preposition phrases of (Francez and Pratt, 1998) with the semantics of questions according to the framework of (Groenendijk and Stokhof 1984, 1997). The analysis is composed of two stages. First, we present a novel compositional method for constructing the meaning representations of temporal questions. This method is based on extending Francez and Pratt's analysis of temporal generalized quantifiers to account for interrogative temporal preposition phrases such as ``during which meeting''. The meanings of such phrases are applied to sentences using two alternative construction methods corresponding to the direct and indirect construction methods for quantified noun phrases in Montague Grammar. Then, we present a model-theoretic interpretation of the resulting temporal question translations, according to Groenendijk and Stokhof's partition interpretation of questions. Using this framework, we extend the semantic notions of answerhood and interrogative entailment for temporal questions.
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