Linguistic Variation Yearbook 2006
  • ISSN 1568-1483
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9900
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This paper offers a view of clause structure based on semantic interpretability, focusing on the structure and interpretation of temporal (tense, aspect) and modal elements. It proposes that modality has a unitary lexical semantics along the lines of Krater (1977 et seq), with different interpretations of modals deriving from the interaction of that semantics with the interpretation of the temporal elements in the structural context the modals are found. Different positions for modal interpretation are proposed, corresponding the the edges of phases (Chomsky 2001). Evidence for this view is put forward from various languages. The clause structure so derived is akin to the universal clausal hierarchy proposed by Cinque (1999), lending support to the notion that something like this hierarchy does indeed hold in natural language, though the justification for it is very different.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): ambiguity; modality; syntax–sematics interface; tense
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