Thursday 11 May-Neda Todorovic

Speaker: Neda Todorovic(Institute of Linguistics OTS at Utrecht University)

Title: On the syntax-semantics interplay in licensing future interpretation

Date: Thursday  11 May

Venue: Lipsius 30

Time: 15:15 – 16:30 hrs


In this talk I focus on different ways to obtain future interpretation in a variety of contexts in an aspectually rich language, Serbian. I show that certain restrictions arise only with perfective aspect. While such an aspectual distribution at first appears unsystematic, I argue that it can be captured in a principled manner by the syntax-semantic interplay. Regarding semantics, I argue that the perfective is restricted in contexts in which the duration of the reference time interval is very short (along the lines of Todorović 2015, 2016). Such an analysis predicts the perfective to be restricted with semantic present, but not in past and future contexts. Interestingly, in addition to the canonical forms, future interpretation in Serbian can be obtained with morphological present – in some of those cases, the perfective is felicitous. In those instances, I argue, possibility of the perfective is an indication that the structure contains a covert modal/future component which provides a longer reference time interval needed for the perfective to be felicitous (in the infelicitous cases, this component is lacking). Regarding syntax, I argue that the covert modal/future component requires syntactic licensing. Thus, the story turns out not to be about licensing the perfective – whether the perfective is permitted in a certain environment is actually a reflection of the presence/absence of a covert modal/future component or, more generally, of the composition of the temporal/modal clausal domain.

To show that Serbian is not peculiar and that the requirement to license a covert modal/future element exists elsewhere, I provide additional data from Lillooet Salish, Paraguayan Guaraní, Chinese, Korean and Washo.

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