Alexandre Cremers & Emmanuel Chemla (2015). “Experiments on the acceptability and possible readings of questions embedded under emotive-factives”.

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Abstract: Emotive-factive predicates, such as surprise or be happy are a source of empirical and theoretical puzzles in the literature on embedded questions. Although they embed wh-questions, they seem not to embed whether-questions. They have complex interactions with negative polarity items such as any or even, and they have been argued to preferentially give rise to weakly exhaustive readings with embedded questions (in contrasts with most other verbs, which have been argued to give rise to strongly exhaustive readings). We offer an empirical overview of the situation in three experiments collecting acceptability judgments, monotonicity judgments and truth-value judgments. The results first straightforwardly confirm the special selectional properties of emotive-factive predicates. More interestingly, the results reveal the existence of strongly exhaustive readings for surprise. The results also suggest that the special properties of emotive-factives cannot be solely explained by their monotonicity profiles, which was not found to differ from the profiles of other responsive predicates.

Keywords: emotive-factive predicates; embedded questions; acceptability judgment task; monotonicity; reading detection analysis

R source file for parsimonious mixed models (see Bates et al, 2015)