Denominal necessity modals in Basque

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Basque has a noun meaning <i>need</i> and a modal form, traditionally classified as verbal, homophonous to it, as in English. This paper provides a derivational account of the relation between the nominal and the so-called verbal <i>need</i> in Basque, by claiming that the purported verbal cases are derived from the nominal ones. This derivational relation, we argue, does not follow from the incorporation of the Basque modal noun into a verbal head, as has been recently claimed for English <i>need</i> (Kayne and Harves, 2012). The necessity modal forms an independent clausal constituent with a DP or a non-finite clause representing the content of the need as its sole argument. This clausal constituent is merged to an applicative head that introduces in the structure the experiencer of the need. The Basque modal construction resembles in this regard the nominal modal constructions found in Celtic languages such as Irish, Scottish Gaelic or Breton. This structure is merged with an intransitive verb BE, which provides the verbal support for the construction. The incorporation of the applicative head to BE results in the transitive auxiliary <i>have</i> in Basque, a phenomenon that we show to be independently attested outside the modal cases.


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