Imperfect propositions

The aim of this paper1 is to provide a unified semantic analysis for three important readings of the Italian Imperfetto (and Presente): the PROGressive, the HABitual, and the FUTurate reading. To highlight the role of the utterance context in setting the relevant parameters of interpretation, explicit temporal adverbials are left out of the scene and prominence is given to the situations where the context provides the temporal information required to discriminate between alternative readings, by exploiting a single logical form. The paper is organized as follows. After a short presentation of the data (sect. 1), in the second section I discuss some intuitive features of imperfectivity by focusing on the fact that the conclusion of an event or series of events is left open. This indeterminacy with respect to a given perspective point is formalized in the third section of the paper by resorting to a branching time model. In the third section a unitary treatment (based on the derivation of a single logical form) is proposed for the three main readings of tenses such as the Presente and the Imperfetto and for an intriguing side effect that, in some particular circumstances, makes a "perfective" reading possible. Since the context has a key role in this reconstruction of imperfectivity, the last section of the paper is devoted to the consideration of the temporal parameters to which the evaluation of an utterance is relativized
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