Decomposing cornering effects: an experimental study


  • Andrea Beltrama
  • Erlinde Meertens
  • Maribel Romero


Alternative Questions with “or not” (NAQ) convey a cornering effect, which is not found with they polar counterparts (PQ). This effect has been claimed to consist of two parts (Biezma 2009): NAQs (i) cannot be used discourse-initially and (ii) they do not license followup questions/subquestions. In this paper, we ask the following: Are both parts of cornering linked to the same property of NAQs? Or do they reflect distinct linguistic phenomena? We explore the issue by comparing the behavior of NAQs to Complement Alternative Questions (CAQ), a type of question that, like NAQs, presents logically opposite alternatives but, unlike NAQs, fully spells out the second one. Results from two experiments suggest that both parts of cornering can instead be explained in terms of independent semantic and pragmatic principles,which operate beyond the domain of alternative questions.




How to Cite

Beltrama, A., Meertens, E., & Romero, M. (2019). Decomposing cornering effects: an experimental study. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 22(1), 175–190. Retrieved from

Most read articles by the same author(s)