Certain English 'non-root modal + PERF' combinations are ambiguous between epistemic and metaphysical readings. The ambiguity has been traditionally analyzed as a scopal one. In this paper the author proposes an alternative temporal shifting analysis which avoids the problems with the competing scopal analysis. The metaphysical reading results when the evaluation time of the non-root modal is backward shifted to its topic time by an operator, and the epistemic reading does not involve temporal shifting. The postulation of the temporal shifters finds crosslinguistic evidence in Mandarin modal contexts.
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 Table of contents
ISBN 978-1-57473-441-6 library binding
v + 322 pages
publication date: 2011
published by Cascadilla Proceedings Project, Somerville, MA, USA