Copular Questions and Concealed Questions

  • Ilaria Frana


This paper aims at explaining a contrast in meaning between CQs and embedded whquestions. Greenberg (1977) observe that while a CQ-sentence like John discovered the murderer of Smith can only convey that John solved the question who murdered Smith?, the sentence John discovered who the murderer of Smith is has an additional reading, compatible with John not knowing about the murder, according to which he found out some essential fact about the person referred to as the murderer. In this paper, I argue that the ambiguity of embedded copular questions follows from the ambiguity of the copular clause they contain, which can have a predicational or a specificational interpretation (Higgins, 1973). On the other hand, assuming that CQs do not contain a copular clause at any level of representation, the ambiguity is not expected here.
How to Cite
Frana, I. (1). Copular Questions and Concealed Questions. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 14, 134-150. Retrieved from