The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LF Reading Group 11/01 - Frank Staniszewski (MIT)

Speaker: Frank Staniszewski (MIT)
Title: Modal ambiguity and neg-raising
Date and time: Wednesday November 1, 1-2pm
Location: 32-D461

In a constrained range of environments, some modal operators appear to show an ambiguity in modal force between weak (existential) readings and strong (universal) readings. In English, this weak/strong ambiguity has been discussed with respect to For-Infinitival Relative clauses (Hackl and Nissenbaum (2010)). In this presentation based on work-in-progress, I will examine additional environments in which modal ambiguity can be detected. These include modal mismatches in sluicing (Klein (1985), Merchant (2001), Rudin (2017)), as well as instances in which weaker than expected meanings for want and should can satisfy the presupposition of anymore (based on observations by Keny Chatain p.c.). I will explore the hypothesis that these ambiguities are the result of an underlying weak semantics for the modal operators in question, and that this is the also source of their strengthened ‘neg-raised’ meanings under negation.