Modal adjectives and the grammar of non-local modification [PhD thesis]
Francesco Gentile
January 2020

This thesis explores non-local modification (Schwarz 2006), namely the phenomenon in which an adjective’s interpretation makes reference to material external to its hosting DP. The focus is on the class of modal adjectives that participate in non-locality, including “possible,” “conceivable” and “imaginable” (Larson 2000). It is proposed that non-local adjectives participate in reduced relatives (e.g. Bhatt 2000) formed via tough-movement, defined here as movement of a null operator (e.g. Chomsky 1977) to the highest specifier available in the modification structure, Spec,AP. Further Quantifier Raising of the DP that hosts a non-local structure allows for the adjective’s infinitival complement to undergo Null Complement Anaphora − analyzed here as ellipsis. This analysis explains the restriction that only certain adjectives come with a non-local reading (Larson 2000, Leffel 2014). The question of whether there is independent evidence for positing a tough-syntax is scrutinized and the relation to the class of ordinary tough-adjectives is examined. It is argued that ordinary tough-adjectives (e.g. “hard,” “easy,” etc.) do not allow for a non-local reading, because their argument structure differs from that of non-local adjectives: while non-local adjectives select infinitival complements introduced by the complementizer “for,” ordinary tough-adjectives select bare infinitives and also for-PPs (Chomsky 1973, Faraci 1974, Jacobson 1992, Hartmann 2011). It is further argued that this distinction has an effect on the derivational step involving ellipsis. Finally, this thesis investigates the truth-conditions of sentences with non-local modifiers. A novel observation is discussed: whenever a sentence with a non-local modifier (e.g., “I brought every tool possible”) is true, a corresponding equative construction (i.e. “I brought as many tools as possible”) is also true. The observation, which is dubbed “the equative effect,” is potentially in conflict with the intersective analysis proposed in this work, but a simple Kratzerian semantics for modals endowed with a time parameter is shown to account for it.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005005
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: McGill University
keywords: non-local modification, modality, tough-adjectives, ellipsis, reduced relatives, degree relatives, semantics, syntax
previous versions: v1 [December 2019]
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