On the accessiblity of possible worlds: The role of tense and *aspect

2005 2005

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Abstract (summary)

This dissertation deals with the interpretation of tense and aspect morphology in would-conditionals. These are conditionals headed by the modal would. Would-conditionals have been widely discussed in the philosophical literature, usually in the context of counterfactual reasoning. In this dissertation I propose a linguistic analysis that seeks to derive properties of would-conditionals from the compositional interpretation of tense and aspect morphology.

In Chapter 1 I present an introduction to the main problems, and discuss some aspects of the theoretical framework that I will be adopting.

In Chapter 2 I present an analysis of the interpretation of past tense morphology in would-conditionals. In dealing with would-conditionals, we are usually interested in worlds that are very similar the actual world up to the time corresponding to the event described by the antecedent clause. I propose to account for this by analyzing would-conditionals as de re claims about the past. I characterize the semantics of the modal would in terms of quantification over worlds that contain counterparts of the actual-world past.

In Chapter 3 I present an analysis of ‘backtracking’ conditionals. These are would-conditionals that manage to quantify over worlds that differ from the actual world at some time before the antecedent clause event. I claim that this is because in backtracking counterfactuals there is an extra layer of auxiliaries that makes relevant laws that are not usually taken into account when identifying counterparts of the actual-world past in other worlds.

In Chapter 4 I present an analysis of the difference between would-conditionals with simple past tense morphology in the antecedent clause and would-conditionals with past perfect morphology in the antecedent clause. Some simple would-conditionals appear not to allow for a counterfactual interpretation, and this militates against a unified analysis of would. However, I show that a unified analysis can be maintained, and the differences explained in terms of the interpretation of tense and aspect morphology. The crucial piece of my analysis will be a characterization of perfective aspect as a deictic aspectual head.

Indexing (details)

0290: Linguistics
Identifier / keyword
Language, literature and linguistics; Aspect; Counterfactuals; Semantics; Tense
On the accessiblity of possible worlds: The role of tense and *aspect
Arregui, Ana Cristina
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 66/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780496976218, 0496976214
Kratzer, Angelika
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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