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Syntax Interface Lectures Utrecht


9 May 2016
15:30 - 17:00
Janskerkhof 13, room 0.06 (Stijlkamer)

Neda Todorović (UConn)

Title: Show me the future, and I’ll tell you what you’re made of: Aspect as a window into temporal-modal domain

Abstract: In this talk, I show that there are asymmetries in the distribution of perfective aspect in Serbian under future interpretations. Its distribution raises some puzzles for the syntax-only/semantics-only accounts, and I argue that the proper treatment of its distribution involves both a syntactic and a semantic component.

  Regarding the latter, I argue that the perfective is possible in past and future contexts, but not when the reference time (RT) is very short (Todorović 2013, 2015 a,b; for English, cf. Parsons 1990, Smith 1991, Kamp and Reyle 1993, i.a.). These restrictions are then predicted to arise when the perfective co-occurs with present tense; when no restrictions arise under such a configuration, this indicates that morphological present is not necessarily semantic present. Instead, the possibility of the perfective suggests that there is a covert future element in the structure. This is where syntax becomes relevant: a covert future component, I argue, requires syntactic licensing; the (im)possibility of the perfective reflects the presence/absence of a covert modal/future element. The licensing thus does not refer to perfective aspect; rather, the (im)possibility of perfective aspect provides insight into the composition of the higher, modal-temporal clausal domain. I provide further evidence for licensing of covert modal component from Chinese, Guaraní, Lillooet Salish, and Korean.