Research Papers

The modal variation and morpho-syntactic mismatches of imperatives have challenged model-theoretic linguists, making it hard to unify them as a notional category. Depending on specific theories, imperatives inherently contain an illocutionary operator with directive force (e.g., Han 1998, 1999a/b/c, 2001), a performative necessity modal similar to MUST/SHOULD (e.g., Schwager 2005a, 2005b, 2006; as Kaufmann 2012), or may denote an addressee-restricted property that constitutes a full commitment (e.g., Portner 2005, 2003a/b; 2007; Ninan 2005; Condoravdi & Lauer 2010, 2011, 2012; among others). Despite the fact that imperatives cannot be simply identified with a single label of modality (i.e., necessity, possibility, deontic, bouletic, teleological etcetera), I propose that there is indeed an underlying property shared by all imperatives unifying and distinguishing them from declaratives: they contribute a nonveridical modal space. In this paper, I study imperatives in terms of nonveridicality and polar partition and argue that their semantic contribution is the presupposition of epistemic uncertainty as to the actualization of a proposition p and the creation of nonveridical modal spaces. Imperatives introduce a preference ordering between p and non-p worlds, and are analyzed as nonveridical operators conveying partial certainty and no inherent directive force. Under this perspective, it is not unexpected that imperative manifests not only as a verbal morphology, but also in the form of particles, i.e., the subjunctive imperatives with na particle in Greek, or that imperatives function modally since nonveridicality characterizes all modalities. Therefore, the dilemma whether imperatives are modals or not becomes redundant; it only matters that imperatives induce nonveridical modal spaces.

In this paper, I argue that the interpretation of the necessity modal prepi in Greek and the individuation of the modalities (epistemic vs. deontic reading) depends on causation rather than the argument structure (raising vs. control) of the modal verb. The necessity verb behaves like volitional and directive verbs, and triggers the force individuation criterion as defined in Copley et al. (2015), distinguishing between CAUSE and ENABLE causal frames. The individuation between epistemic necessity and deontic necessity depends on the conceptualization of agency and the different configurations of force. I show, first, that the phenomenon is not just syntactical (pace Hofmann 1966; Perlmutter 1970b; Ross 1969; Jackendoff 1972; Butler 2003; Hacquard 2006, 2009; among many others): the variation in the interpretation (epistemic vs. deontic) is the result of differences in the argument structure (raising vs. control) of the modal auxiliary verbs. The key, I argue is causation, which triggers a shift from pure necessity, to intention as force (in the sense of Copley et al. (2015), i.e., as a field generating force. In Greek, the epistemic and deontic reading of the necessity modal comes about in a conceptual causal frame, where the two clauses are connected with the subjunctive particle na ‘to/that’— a pattern that we find also in other languages, including English, at least with some performative verbs such as agree, insist where the different modal reading are visible through complement choice. The current analysis implies a meaning of modality richer than mere argument structure (raising vs. control); and, by capitalizing on the causal frame and the presence of force in modal structures, the analysis enables a principled explanation of the shift to intention-necessity without positing ambiguity for the necessity verb prepi.

This paper discusses nonveridicality as a way of analyzing quantifier variability of imperatives in Greek and English. I argue that the quantifier variability in imperatives is due to an non-homogenous modal base (quantificational domain), and that the logical form of imperatives features a quantifier placeholder (underquantified) that obtains its interpretation as a universal or an existential quantifier via a Selection function. The Selection, a partition-function, represents an individual’s ranked preferences and goals and determines the type of quantifier in imperatives. The formal model I propose does not introduce ambiguity or inherent properties into the logical form of imperatives; rather, it implies a meaning of imperatives beyond merely ORDER and, by capitalizing on nonveridicality and ranked preferences of an individual, enables a principled analysis of the quantifier variability of imperatives.

In this paper, I argue that the various readings of tha-structures are due to the varying size of the domain of the universal quantification (Staraki 2013, 2014, 2017), and that the degree of certainty (how close to the truth) of a proposition of the form THA [p] depends on a measurable intersection BEST.

In this paper, I show that the future morpheme tha ‘will’ in Greek conveys a wide range of modal uses ranging from epistemic to deontic necessity, and that the temporal reference (the so called predictive reading) is an epiphenomenon of future reference’s underlying logical structure which is of abductive nature. I argue that the various readings of future expressions are due to the varying size of the domain of the universal quantification (Staraki 2013, 2014, 2017), and that the degree of certainty (how close to the truth) of a proposition of the form FUT [p] depends on a measurable intersection BEST. Tha “will” is a universal quantifier the universal quantification of which exhibits gradience. This gradience on the universal quantificational domain conveys the various degrees of an individual’s commitment to a logical inference. The formal analysis I offer combines modal (Kratzer 1977, 1981, 1991) with scale semantics (Kennedy 2007).

The aim of this paper is to present a new account for imperatives and their interaction with free choice item any and disjunctive or. Specifically, I argue that free choice inferences are a conversational implicature rather than an entailment. To that, I show that indefinite any and disjunctive or are overt exhaustifiers of the set of alternatives introduced by imperatives and that the derivation of free choice inferences for any and or depend on different types of exhaustification: recursion and iteration, respectively.

In this paper, I show that the future morpheme "will" conveys a wider range of modal uses ranging from epistemic to deontic necessity and, that temporal reference (the so called predictive reading) is an epiphenomenon of future reference’s underlying logical structure which is of abductive nature. I also argue that the various readings of future expressions are due to the varying size of the domain of the universal quantification, and that the degree of certainty (how close to the truth) of a proposition FUT p depends on the measurable intersection BEST. In addition, I propose a novel formal analysis which combines modal (Kratzer 1977, 1981, 1991) with scale semantics (Kennedy 2007) to analyze future morphemes such as will (FUT henceforth) which is a universal quantifier the universal quantification of which exhibits gradience. This gradience on the universal quantificational domain I model in a scale of certainty which represents the various degrees of an individual’s commitment to the truth inference.

2014: Imperatives as Underquantified Propositions

In this paper I argue that imperatives constitute a distinct case of underquantified propositions which receive a wide range of interpretations represented as either a universal or an existential quantifier due to imperatives' underquantified modal base. In the Proceedings of the 38th Annual Penn Linguistics Colloquium

2014: Imperatives and Deontic Modality

In this paper I employ a set of tests that show that imperatives and deontic modality should not be treated on a par because they constitute distinct semantic entities. Furthermore, I propose that imperatives do not incorporate a covert modal component and deontic modals do not incorporate an imperative-like performative component. To appear in the Proceedings of the International Conference on Greek Linguistics (ICGL) 11, Aegean University

In this paper we show that Greek distinguishes empirically ability as a precondition for action and ability as initiating and sustaining 'force' for action. The ability verb behaves like an action verb and the sentence has the logical form of a causative structure in terms of Dowty (1979). In Genericity, ed. Alda Mari et al., Oxford University Press. 250-275.

In this paper I challenge the leading idea that the embedded tenses force dependency on the main clause by examining in more detail the syntax and semantics of attitude verbs in Greek. To this I provide evidence which indicate that context plays a crucial role in the interpretation of the embedded tenses. In the Proceedings of the 10th international conference on tense, aspect, modality and evidentiality, Aston University, Birmingham (UK)

2010: Temporal Interpretation of English and Greek Modals

In this paper I show that a unified model of modal/temporal semantics for modals is not generalizable to a language like Greek where the temporal and modal morphology are teased apart clearly by separate temporal and modal morphology. In the Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Modality in English-ModE4, Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

2010: On the Temporal Interpretation of Modals

In this paper I argue that Greek modals like 'bori' which is the equivalent of 'may' are not composite temporal/modal operators and that modals embed tensed verbs (contra Condoravdi 2002). In the Proceedings of the 46th Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, University of Chicago.

2009: Temporal anchoring in the DP: the case of "na"

A novel account is proposed for those cases where the 'na' subjunctive particle is prohibited although expected according tot he semantics of the embedding verb (for example, attitude verbs). I argue that the time reference necessary to the reference of 'na' propositions comes from the DP domain. In the Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Greek Linguistics, University of Chicago.

2008: Turkish Loanwords in Modern Greek

In this paper I present Turkish loanwords adaptations in Modern Greek based on the hypothesis of a psycholinguistic approach according to which deviant adaptations can be accomodated if we consider loanwoard adaptation as a perceptual assimilation (see Peperkamp & Dupoux 2003). In the Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Department of Linguistics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

2007: The Subjunctive Marker "na" in Greek

This is an earlier version of my 2009 paper titled 'Temporal Anchoring in the DP'. In the Proceedings of the Oxford Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics St. Ann’s College, Oxford

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by Eleni Staraki