An Epistemic Bridge for Presupposition Projection in Questions

Nadine Theiler

Semantic presuppositions are certain inferences associated with words or linguistic constructions. For example, if someone tells you that they “recently started doing yoga”, then this presupposes that they didn’t do yoga before.

A problem that has occupied semanticists for decades is how the presuppositions of a complex sentence can be computed from the presuppositions of its parts. Another way of putting this problem is, how do presuppositions project in various environments?

In this talk, I will discuss presupposition projection in one particular linguistic environment, namely in questions, arguing that it should be treated pragmatically. I will motivate a generalized version of Stalnaker’s bridge principle and show that it makes correct predictions for a range of different interrogative forms and different question uses.