Contrary to well-established assumptions and arguments that wh-questions contain existential presuppositions (Katz and Postal 1964, Karttunen and Peters 1976, Comorovski 1996, and many others), in English only how come is truly presuppositional. A comparison of wh-phrases with factive predicates shows that the behavior of how come parallels that of factives, while other wh-phrases are non-factive in their behavior. Evidence for semantic presuppositions in these wh-questions is better treated through simple pragmatic principles of question asking, and residual presupposition-like effects with non-how come questions are treated as the result of entailments from possible answers.
Proceedings of the 24th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by John Alderete, Chung-hye Han, and Alexei Kochetov
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