On the Grammar of Optative Constructions

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This monograph is one of the first theoretical studies of optatives. Optative constructions express desire without an overt lexical item that means ‘desire’. The author specifically investigates optatives with the syntax of embedded clauses that contain prototypical particles such as ‘only’. He rejects the view that optativity arises compositionally from the standard semantics of embedded clauses and prototypical particles. The following system is proposed: Desirability is due to a generalized scalar exclamation operator EX. Furthermore, clausal properties such as factivity/counterfactuality are encoded in a Mood head, which co-determines morphological mood and complementizer choice. Finally, the prototypical particles that optatives contain are truth-conditionally vacuous presupposition triggers. As a result, these meaning components do not interact directly, but their meanings converge, with the consequence that they prototypically co-occur. This monograph is of interest for formal semanticists, syntacticians, pragmaticists and morphologists, and especially relevant for research on mood and particle semantics.

Subjects: Germanic linguistics; Pragmatics; Theoretical linguistics; Syntax; Semantics

  • Affiliations: 1: University of Tübingen

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