Bias in polar questions: Evidence from English and German production experiments

Abstract

Different polar question forms (e.g., Do you / Do you not / Don’t you / Really? Do you... have a car?) are not equally appropriate in all situations. The present experiments investigate which combinations of original speaker belief and contextual evidence influence the choice of question type in English and German. Our results show that both kinds of bias interact: in both languages, positive polar questions are typically selected when there is no original speaker belief and positive or non-informative contextual evidence; low negation questions (Do you not...?) are most frequently chosen when no original belief meets negative contextual evidence; high negation questions (Don’t you...?) are prompted when positive original speaker belief is followed by negative or non-informative contextual evidence; positive questions with really are produced most frequently when a negative original bias is combined with positive contextual evidence. In string-identical forms, there are prosodic differences across crucial conditions. 

Keywords

Polar question, bias, negation, experimental pragmatics, prosody

How to Cite

Domaneschi F. & Romero M. & Braun B., (2017) “Bias in polar questions: Evidence from English and German production experiments”, Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 2(1), p.26. doi: https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.27

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Authors

Filippo Domaneschi (University of Genoa, DISFOR – Department of Educational Sciences, Psychology Unit)
Maribel Romero (Universität Konstanz, Fachbereich Sprachwissenschaft Raum G212)

Bettina Braun (Universität Konstanz, Fachbereich Sprachwissenschaft Raum G221)

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

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This article has been peer reviewed.

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