The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LFRG 04/07/2021 — Jad Wehbe (MIT)

Speaker: Jad Wehbe (MIT)
Title: An Implicature Account of Actuality Entailments

Time: Wednesday, April 7th, 1pm – 2pm

Abstract — An Implicature Account of Actuality Entailments: 

 Actuality Entailments (first discussed by Bhatt, 1999; Hacquard, 2006) arise when the prejacent is present-oriented with respect to the evaluation time of a circumstantial possibility or necessity modal (Matthewson, 2012; Kratzer, 2011). This talk will focus on a puzzle that arises from the interaction of AEs with negation. Namely, negated actualized modals give rise to what Hacquard (2009) calls a non-actuality entailment, an entailment that the event did not occur in the actual world. Taken together, the facts about actualized modals in positive and negative environments require an account of AEs that includes an implicature or presuppositional component. This talk will explore an implicature account of AEs (see Homer, 2019; Alxatib, 2020 for a presuppositional account), proposing that the basic uniform meaning of modal auxiliaries involves existential quantification over a time interval. When the prejacent is present-oriented with respect to the modal perspective, this basic meaning straightforwardly derives non-actuality entailments under negation. In positive sentences, a strengthened meaning is derived by the calculation of an implicature that is modeled after Bar-Lev’s (2020) account of homogeneity with definite plurals. I will show that the proposed implicature account can predict the differences in meaning between actualized possibility modals, actualized necessity modals and their non-modal counterparts, while deriving actuality entailments and non-actuality entailments.​