The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Thu Sep 19, 2019
234 Moses Hall, 12:30–2 PM
Meaning Sciences Club
Cleo Condoravdi (Stanford)
Ad-nominal epistemic adverbs without hidden structure

Epistemic modal adverbs semantically compose with expressions of propositional type, but in addition to their regular clausal positions, they can also attach syntactically to DPs (Ernst 1983). As ad-nominal modifiers, epistemic adverbs give rise to an existential entailment (Bogal-Allbritten 2013): while (1) is consistent with John visiting no place, (2) entails that John visited some place. However, when they modify a DP within a coordinate structure (Collins conjunction, Collins 1988), the existential entailment disappears: (3) is consistent with John visiting no place other than Paris.

(1) Perhaps, John visited London during the summer.

(2) John visited perhaps London during the summer.

(3) John visited Paris and perhaps London during the summer.

Recent work has reconciled the semantic requirement of epistemic adverbs for sentential scope with their apparent sub-sentential scope and accounted for the interpretive contrasts between (1) vs. (2) and (2) vs. (3) in terms of covert syntactic structure and structural ambiguity for Collins conjunctions (Bogal-Allbritten 2013, Bogal-Allbritten & Weir 2017). This talk presents an analysis based in event semantics which allows modal adverbs to combine with a DP and have semantic scope just over the thematic role linking the DP to the verb, relying on the flexible approach to semantic composition afforded by glue semantics (Dalrymple 1999, Gotham 2018). The analysis makes better empirical predictions than the alternatives and accounts for the absence of the existential entailment in Collins conjunctions without assuming structural or semantic ambiguity.