The Research Unit Questions at the Interfaces (QI) started in April 2016 and has been granted it’s second funding period at the last DFG Senat meeting.

It is dedicated to investigating question formation, with a particular emphasis on non-canonical questions (e.g., rhetorical, echo, self-addressed, suggestive). This Research Unit (RU) combines expertise from theoretical, computational and experimental linguistics as well as visual analytics to study how different components of grammar (morphology, syntax, phonology) interface with one another to signal a particular meaning.

Questions are classically considered in terms of their information-seeking character; The speaker wants an answer from the listener. However, this does not apply equally to all questions. Questions like “Does the mayor have an alcohol problem or is he mentally neglected by nature?” (Twitter) or “Who invests in the humanities?” have a strong non-information seeking part and are more likely to be used to convey opinions and attitudes. The interdisciplinary research group (linguists and computer scientists) uses linguistic, experimental and visual analytical methods to investigate how such non-canonical questions are structured lexically, morphologically, grammatically and prosodically and how they are perceived.

Department of Linguistics Department of Computer and Information Science