non-canonical questions in french, german, and beyond


Confirmed speakers:

Jenny Doetjes (Leiden University)

Caroline Féry (Goethe University Frankfurt)

Ur Shlonsky (University of Geneva)

The aim of this workshop is to discuss non-canonical questions from a cross-linguistic perspective, with a focus on French and German. We are interested in contributions exploring how semantic and pragmatic factors affect the meaning of interrogative sentences and how modal components and particularly information structure interact with the speech act of questioning. By ‘non-canonical’ questions we mean questions that do not request information from the addressee in the first place, but rather tell us something about the speaker’s epistemic and/or emotional state (e.g., echo questions, rhetorical questions, surprise questions).

For instance, non-canonical readings can be triggered by a construction marking narrow focus in a context where a narrow focus is not expected, by lexical elements such as modal particles or the non-argumental use of wh-elements (German was, French qu’est-ce que), or by syntactic strategies like focus fronting, dislocation, or wh-in-situ.

The focus of this workshop is the comparison between French and German, but we are also open to submissions that refer to this comparison when investigating further languages.

We invite submissions of anonymous abstracts for 45-minute talks including discussion. Submissions should not exceed two pages, 12pt. single spaced, with 2.5cm (= one-inch) margins on all sides. Either PDF or Word format is accepted. Please upload your abstracts at by the deadline listed below.

Important dates:

Submission deadline: August 1, 2019

Notification: September 1, 2019

Workshop: November 21-22, 2019

Local organizers:

Andreas Trotzke

Anna Czypionka

Organizing board:

Andreas Trotzke

Anna Czypionka

Agnès Celle

Lisa Brunetti

Funded by:

DAAD Project Surprise Questions from a Comparative Perspective

DFG Research Unit Questions at the Interfaces


University of Konstanz --- November 21-22, 2019