Groenendijk and Stokhof (1984, 1996; Groenendijk 1999) provide a logically attractive theory of the semantics of natural language questions, commonly referred to as the partition theory. Two central notions in this theory are entailment between questions and answerhood. For example, the question "Who is going to the party?" entails the question "Is John going to the party?", and "John is going to the party" counts as an answer to both. Groenendijk and Stokhof define these two notions in terms of partitions of a set of possible worlds. We provide a syntactic characterization of entailment between questions and answerhood . We show that answers are, in some sense, exactly those formulas that are built up from instances of the question. This result lets us compare the partition theory with other approaches to interrogation -- both linguistic analyses, such as Hamblin's and Karttunen's semantics, and computational systems, such as Prolog. Our comparison separates a notion of answerhood into three aspects: equivalence (when two questions or answers are interchangeable), atomic answers (what instances of a question count as answers), and compound answers (how answers compose).
- Pub Date:
- September 2002
- Computer Science - Computation and Language;
- Computer Science - Artificial Intelligence;
- Computer Science - Logic in Computer Science;
- 14 pages