Question Understanding from the Perspective of Context Theory

Xiaohui Ran


This paper uses context theory to study the question in natural language. In syntax, questions can be classified into polar questions, alternative questions, concealed questions, and inquisitive questions. In semantics, it can be divided into polar questions and inquisitive questions. Only inquisitive questions with characteristics of inquisitiveness, informativeness, compliance, and transparency need to be studied by context theory. There are three levels for question context: question-answer facts, background knowledge, and question presupposition. The question context composes the possible world where the question is. Question understanding is a function of the mapping of the question through the possible worlds, and the set of propositions consisting of different possible worlds of the question context and the set of propositions consisting of different possible answers to the question are mapped to each other, resulting in different answers in different possible worlds of the same question.

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