This article was presented as a research paper at the Rajasthan Sanskrit Conference, 4th Session, held in Jaipur, March 1977. I am thankful also to the Conference for allowing me to publish it elsewhere.
We present diverse evidence for the claim of Pullum and Rawlins (2007) that expressives behave differently from descriptives in constructions that enforce a particular kind of semantic identity between elements. Our data are drawn from a wide variety of languages and construction types, and they point uniformly to a basic linguistic distinction between descriptive content and expressive content (Kaplan 1999; Potts 2007).
Harmonic Grammar (HG) is a model of linguistic constraint interaction in which well-formedness is calculated as the sum of weighted constraint violations. We show how linear programming algorithms can be used to determine whether there is a weighting for a set of constraints that fits a set of linguistic data. The associated software package OT-Help provides a practical tool for studying large and complex linguistic systems in the HG framework and comparing the results with those of OT. We describe the (...) translation from Harmonic Grammars to systems solvable by linear programming, and we illustrate the usefulness of OT-Help with a set of studies of the predictions HG makes for phonological typology. (shrink)
The natural interpretation of counterfactuals with disjunctive antecedents involves selecting from each of the disjuncts the worlds that come closest to the world of evaluation. It has been long noticed that capturing this interpretation poses a problem for a minimal change semantics for counterfactuals, because selecting the closest worlds from each disjunct requires accessing the denotation of the disjuncts from the denotation of the disjunctive antecedent, which the standard boolean analysis of or does not allow (Creary and Hill, Philosophy of (...) Science 43:341–344, 1975; Nute, Journal of Philosophy 72:773–778, 1975; Fine, Mind 84(335):451–458, 1975; Ellis et al. Journal of Philosophical Logic 6:335–357, 1977). This paper argues that the failure to capture the natural interpretation of disjunctive counterfactuals provides no reason to abandon a minimal change semantics. It shows that the natural interpretation of disjunctive counterfactuals is expected once we refine our assumptions about the semantics of or and the logical form of conditionals, and (i) we assume that disjunctions introduce propositional alternatives in the semantic derivation, in line with independently motivated proposals about the semantics of or (Aloni, 2003a; Simons, Natural Language Semantics 13:271–316, 2005; Alonso-Ovalle, Disjunction in Alternative Semantics. PhD thesis, 2006); and (ii) we treat conditionals as correlative constructions, as advocated in von Fintel (1994), Izvorski (Proceedings of NELS 26, 1996), Bhatt and Pancheva (2006), and Schlenker (2004). (shrink)
This paper discusses the interaction of aspect and modality, and focuses on the puzzling implicative effect that arises when perfective aspect appears on certain modals: perfective somehow seems to force the proposition expressed by the complement of the modal to hold in the actual world, and not merely in some possible world. I show that this puzzling behavior, originally discussed in Bhatt (1999, Covert modality in non-finite contexts) for the ability modal, extends to all modal auxiliaries with a circumstantial (...) modal base (i.e., root modals ), while epistemic interpretations of the same modals are immune to the effect. I propose that implicative readings are contingent on the relative position of the modal w.r.t. aspect: when aspect scopes over the modal (as I argue is the case for root modals), it forces an actual event, thereby yielding an implicative reading. When a modal element scopes over aspect, no actual event is forced. This happens (i) with epistemics, which structurally appear above tense and aspect; (ii) with imperfective on a root modal: imperfective brings in an additional layer of modality, itself responsible for removing the necessity for an actual event. This proposal enables us to solve the puzzle while maintaining a standardized semantics for aspects and modals. (shrink)
Abstract In this paper, we show that Greek distinguishes empirically ability as a precondition for action, and ability as initiating and sustaining force for action. In this latter case, the ability verb behaves like an action verb, and the sentence has the logical form of a causative structure φ CAUSE [BECOME ψ] (Dowty 1979). The distinction between ability as potential for action and ability as action itself has a venerable tradition that goes back to Aristotle, and is recently implied in (...) a number of analyses (Mari and Martin 2007, 2009, Thomason 2005). We show first that the phenomenon is not just aspectual ( pace Bhatt 1999, Hacquard 2006, 2009, Pinon 2003): actualized ability emerges with the ability verb also with imperfective aspect and present tense. They key, we argue is causation, which triggers a shift from pure ability, to ability as force (in the sense of Copley and Harley 2010, i.e. as action initiating energy). In Greek, the action reading of the ability modal comes about in an apparent co-ordinate causative structure, where the two clauses are connected with conjunction ke ‘and’— a pattern that we find also in other languages, including English, at least with some action verbs such as try, allow . Our analysis implies a meaning of ability richer than mere possibility ( pace Hacquard); and, by capitalizing on the causative meaning and the presence of force in causative structures, our analysis enables a principled explanation of the shift to action-ability without positing ambiguity for the ability verb ( pace Bhatt 1999). (shrink)