The dependency of the subjunctive revisited: Temporal semantics and polarity

In this paper, I examine the syntax-semantics of subjunctive clauses in (Modern) Greek. These clauses are headed by the particle na and contain a dependent verbal form with no formal mood features: the perfective nonpast (PNP). I propose that the semantics of na is temporal: it introduces the variable now (n) into the syntax. This is necessary because the apparent present tense in the PNP cannot introduce n. The PNP, instead, contains a dependent time variable. This variable cannot be interpreted as a free variable – hence it cannot be identified with the utterance time of the context. This analysis relies on two premises. One is the (quite influential) idea that pronouns and tenses are analogous creatures (Partee 1973, 1984, Heim 1998, Kratzer 1998, and others). The other premise is that at least some polarity items are expressions that contain variables that cannot be interpreted deictically (Giannakidou 1998, 2001). In the present work I suggest to enlarge the domain of phenomena that can receive a unified treatment across individuals, worlds, and tenses, and treat the subjunctive mood as a non-deictic time, thus an instance of a polarity dependency of the temporal kind. It is my hope that the analysis proposed here for the PNP can be used to analyze verbal subjunctives in Romance languages, and perhaps also infinitival forms in English, but investigation of this question will have be left for the future.
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