The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LingLunch 2/13 - Elise Newman (MIT)

Speaker: Elise Newman (MIT)
Title: The future since Stump
Time: Thursday, February 13th, 12:30pm – 2pm
Location: 32-D461

Abstract: English temporal adjunct clauses typically show past-under-past (1) and present-under-future (2), irrespective of the temporal connective used. The examples in (2) have come to be known as Stump’s pattern, based on Stump’s(1985) observation that the present tense in the adjunct clause has a future-shifted interpretation.

(1) Past under past a. I waved when I saw/see him. b. I saw him before he saw/sees me. c. I saw him after he saw/*sees me.

(2) Present under future a. I will wave when I see/saw him. b. I will see him before he sees/saw me. c. I will see him after he sees/*saw me.

Sharvit (2013) and von Stechow and Grønn (2013) propose that future-shifted present is a deleted tense, licensed by a present tense operator on woll in the matrix clause. Adjunct tenses are otherwise proposed to be evaluated with respect to utterance time. I discuss a counterexample to Stump’s pattern that poses a problem for this theory: since-adjuncts in future perfect clauses show past, not present, and still allow future-shifting. This future shifted past appears not to be a deleted tense, but is rather interpreted with respect to a future time instead of utterance time. Similar facts can be demonstrated for other temporal connectives as well.

(3) By this time next year, mom will have visited twice since I bought/*buy my new bike. (bike-buying time can be in the future)

To account for these facts, I propose that the evaluation time of an adjunct is compositionally determined by its adjunction site. The presence of the perfect in the matrix clause offers an additional adjunction site below tense, allowing the adjunct to scope under the matrix tense operator. In a future perfect, this means that the adjunct clause can take a future time as its evaluation time, thus licensing a past operator that introduces a future event (like we find in embedded clauses).

The reason a low adjunction position is only available in future perfect clauses, but not simple future clauses, is because of the meaning of the temporal connectives. Interpretation of before/since with respect to the same evaluation time as their complement clauses results in contradiction. Therefore, I argue that complement clauses of before/since must QR to receive an evaluation index from a higher head. This always results in a tense-deletion configuration for matrix simple future clauses, but a shifted interpretation in future perfect.