In French, when a root modal appears in the perfective (in a positive matrix clause), the truth of its complement in the actual world can be inferred. This is what is traditionally called an actuality entailment (AE) (Bhatt 1999, Hacquard 2006). This paper shows that root modals are stative predicates of eventualities: as such they need to be coerced, i.e., turned into bounded predicates, to fit under the perfective. AEs with root modals instantiate a hitherto undocumented kind of aspectual coercion (I label it actualistic), which, like other kinds of coercion, targets modal as well as non-modal stative predicates; its outcome is the assertion of the existence of some pragmatically salient event.
Proceedings of the 28th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Mary Byram Washburn, Katherine McKinney-Bock, Erika Varis, Ann Sawyer, and Barbara Tomaszewicz
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