We will have our last meeting of the semester this week (Friday, 2pm in Oak 338). Sarah Zobel (University of Tuebingen/MIT) will present some recent work on “as”-phrases.
Modals and the restrictive potential of weak adjunct “as”-phrases
Stump (1985) discusses the behavior of free adjuncts, like the sentence-initial adjuncts in (1). He observes that certain free adjuncts (which he calls “weak”) give rise to an ambiguity in case they co-occur with temporal or modal quantifiers (i.e., modals, adverbs of quantification, Gen/Hab), see (1a): the content contributed by a weak adjunct can be understood as relating to the remainder of the sentence causally or as restricting the co-occurring quantifier. Weak adjuncts contrast with so-called “strong” adjuncts, which only allow for the non-restrictive, causal interpretation, see (1b).
|(1)||a.||As a passenger of Lufthansa, Peter would be content.||(weak)|
|(Possible: Since Peter is a passenger of Lufthansa, he would be content.)|
|(Possible: If Peter were a passenger of Lufthansa, he would be content.)|
|b.||Being a passenger of Lufthansa, Peter would be content.||(strong)|
|(Only Possible: Since Peter is a passenger of Lufthansa, he would be content.)|
|(Not possible: If Peter were a passenger of Lufthansa, he would be content.|
In this talk, I take a closer look at weak adjunct “as”-phrases (e.g., (1a)) and further investigate their restrictive possibilities. Starting out, I present an analysis of the semantic contribution of “as”-phrases (inspired by Stump 1985 and Jäger 2003), and propose an account for how the restrictive interpretation arises. I then explore the predictions of the account regarding the restrictive potential of “as”-phrases when they co-occur with different types of modals, which connect to previously observed puzzles in the semantics of modals.