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‘I know the answer’

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Abstract

In Capeverdean, there is a puzzling temporal reading for some occurrences of <i>sabe</i> &#8216;know&#8217;, as opposed to all eventive and some stative sentences: <i>N sabe risposta</i> has a present reading, &#8216;I know the answer&#8217;, whereas <i>N kume pexe</i> and <i>N kridita na Nhor Des</i> have past readings, &#8216;I ate the fish&#8217; and &#8216;I believed in God&#8217;, respectively. The proposal in Pratas (2010) accounts for this puzzle in the following way: (i) all these predicates denote past eventualities, as an effect of a zero operator that adds a termination to atelic and a completion to telic situations; (ii) the particular property of <i>N sabe risposta</i> &#8216;I know the answer&#8217; lies in its complex structure: it includes a past culmination, &#8216;I got to know the answer&#8217;, but its temporal reading is anchored on a consequent state (Moens &#38; Steedman 1988), &#8216;[now] I know&#8217;. That previous proposal, however, does not provide an explanation for the nonexistence of analogous temporal readings for other situations. The present paper tackles this problem, putting forward an analysis based on Perfect State theories: (i) the zero morpheme is a Null Perfect marker; (ii) only for predicates like <i>sabe risposta</i> &#8216;know the answer&#8217; may a Perfect State be the direct result of the past eventuality, as defined in Smith (1991); I argue that this result state is part of the event structure; (iii) for other predicates, the Perfect State is merely an abstract state of the event&#8217;s having occurred (Parsons 1990; ter Meulen 1995); therefore, it does not participate in the event structure and, as such, it is not part of the situation temporal schema. Keywords:&#65279;&#65279; capeverdean; statives; tense; event structure; null perfect

References

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