Linguistik-Klassifikation: Semantik / Semantics
A comprehensive semantics for agreement
The morphological and semantic classification of 'evidentials' and modal verbs in German : the perfect(ive) catalyst
- This paper draws a link between the typological phenomenon of the paradigmatically supported evidentiality evoked by perfect and/or perfectivity and the equally epistemic system of modal verbs in German. The assumption is that, if perfect(ivity) is at the bottom of evidentiality in a wide number of unrelated languages, then it will not be an arbitrary fact that systematic epistemic readings occur also for the modal verbs in German, which were preterite presents originally. It will be demonstrated, for one, how exactly modal verbs in Modem German still betray sensitivity to perfect and perfective contexts, and, second, how perfect(ivity) is prone to evincing epistemic meaning. Although the expectation cannot be satisfied due to a lack of respective data from the older stages of German, a research path is sketched narrowing down the linguistic questions to be asked and dating results to be reached.
Rethinking the Adjunct
- The purpose of the present paper is twofold: first, to show that, when defining the adjunct, it is necessary to distinguish in a strict modular way between the syntactic level and the lexico-semantic level. Thus, the adjunct is a syntactic category on a par with the specifier and the complement, whereas the argument belongs to the same set as does (among others) the modifier. The consequence of this distinction is that there is no direct one-to-one opposition between adjuncts and arguments. Nor is there any direct one-to one relation between adjuncts and modifiers.
The second and main purpose of the paper is to account for the well-known difference between the position of a specific set of modifiers (cause, time, place etc.) in, on the one hand, English and Swedish, on the other, German. In English and Swedish the default position of these modifiers is postverbal, whereas in German it is preverbal. Further, in English and Swedish, these modifiers occur in a mirror order compared with their German counterparts, an order which, from a semantic point of view, is not the expected one. I shall demonstrate that this difference is due to the different settings of the verbal head parameter, the former languages being VO-languages and the latter being OV -languages. I shall further argue that in English and Swedish these modifiers are base generated as adjuncts to an empty VP, which is a complement of the main verb of what I shall call the minimal VP (MVP), whereas in German they are adjuncts on top of the MVP. Finally, I shall argue that the postverbal modifiers move at the latest at LF to the top of the MVP, in order to take scope over it, the restriction being 'Shortest move'. The movement results in the correct scope order of the postverbal modifiers.
The proposed structure also accounts for the binding data, in particular for the binding of a specific Swedish possessive anaphor 'sin'. This pronoun, which may occur within the MVP, must not occur within the postverbal modifiers in the empty VP. This supports the assumption that there is a strict borderline between the MVP and the assumed empty VP. The account is also in accordance with the focus data, the specific set of modifiers being potential focus exponents in a wide focus reading in English and Swedish, but not in German.