@bylin At a recent semantics research group meeting in Tokyo, @Crime and other English native speakers reported that "Which student left" indeed presupposes that some student left, but "Which students left" is compatible with no student leaving. This would make sense if plural which-phrases include the "zero" extension while singular ones only range over singular extensions. Is this something that's been discussed in the literature?
@wataruu indeed indeed! there's something rick and i argue for in a recent paper, but it was also suggested on independent grounds most notably by landman in his 'boolean pragmatics' manuscript; also, gajewski and hseih in the heim festschrift paper on npis discuss the same suggestion; then buccola and spector in the modified numerals paper talk about this a bit too
@wataruu @bylin @Crime
Not being a language buff, but rather CS and physics, i suppose your you're right in saying that at least one of those questions can be validely answered with 0 (zero), but I would suppose, that most cases would indicate the suspicion of any number of students leaving, more so than how many actually left or not.
@wataruu @Crime @bylin Huh, I don't get this judgement at all. The claim is that "which students left?" is a question that can be felicitously asked by a speaker who deems it possible that no students left???
Whatever the facts turn out to be, I have some work with Uli and Andreea on plural vs. singular simplex wh-phrases which might be relevant. We found that plural but not singular "who" carries an existence presupposition in languages with a morphological distinction.
@bylin @patrl @wataruu better to use a third person subject with negation, I believe those were the test cases: "John doesn't know which students came" vs "John doesnt know which student came". If you find the contrast there you may find it in the case of actual questions, so being agnostic whether any students came is still a possible case. At least that's how I think it went; the discussion started with presupposition of "care": "John doesnt care which students left" def has no presupposition