Summary: To Be or Not to Be, Isn't that a Question?
Seemingly, the notion of a question is a simple and uniform one. Most
speakers can recognize a question when they hear one, and most or-
thographies find it sufficient to use a single symbol to indicate ques-
tions. Yet the linguistic and philosophical literature on questions is
rich in analyses and controversies, and there exist a large number of
subtypes of questions, both as regards form and function.
The two major types in most taxonomies of questions are polar
questions, also referred to as yes-no questions or nexus-questions, and
x-questions, also called wh-questions or questions of identity. A third
type is the alternative question, whose characteristic feature is that it
provides two or more alternatives from which one should be selected.
In (1) we give one example of each kind:
(1) a. Is today Monday? (Polar question)
b. What day is it today? (X-question)
c. Is today Monday or Tuesday? (Alternative question)
While these examples also illustrate typical question constructions, it
is clear that there is more than one way to express questions of a