A non-uniform semantic analysis of the Italian temporal connectives prima and dopo

Natural Language Semantics 16 (2):157-203 (2008)
Abstract
In this paper, I argue that the temporal connective prima (‘before’) is a comparative adverb. The argument is based on a number of grammatical facts from Italian, showing that there is an asymmetry between prima and dopo (‘after’). On the ground of their divergent behaviour, I suggest that dopo has a different grammatical status from prima. I propose a semantic treatment for prima that is based on an independently motivated analysis of comparatives which can be traced back to Seuren (in: Kiefer and Ruwet (eds.) Generative grammar in Europe, 1973). Dopo is analyzed instead as an atomic two-place predicate which contributes a binary relation over events to the sentence meaning. The different semantic treatments of the two connectives provide an explanation for the grammatical asymmetries considered at the outset; interestingly, they also shed some light on other asymmetries between prima and dopo, which are known to hold for the English temporal connectives before and after as well: these asymmetries are related to the veridicality properties, the distribution of NPIs, and the logical properties of these connectives first described in Anscombe (Philos Rev 73:3–24, 1964).
Keywords Temporal connectives  Comparatives  Scalar adverbs
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