We are happy to announce a talk by Alda Mari (Paris) next thursday at the Semantics Colloquium. Please find an abstract below.
Please note that you need to register beforehand. Please send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org before thursday 3pm. You will receive a reply with the access data (to zoom) on thursday at 4pm (= immediately before the colloquium starts).
Title: Subjunctive belief: the common-ground-as-default-rule and its pragmatic effects
Date: May 28th
Time: 4pm – 6pm
In contrast to most other Romance languages, `believe‘ commonly and prescriptively takes subjunctive in Italian, though indicative is found as well, the choice of indicative or subjunctive has semantic effects. We show that the indicative with `believe‘ is used when the belief statement describes the personal mental state of the holder of the attitude, an interpretation that follows from the traditional Hintikkean semantics. In contrast, we show that subjunctive with `believe‘ is used to mark a relation between the content of belief and the discourse context. To analyze these facts, we propose that the modal quantification present in attitude reports comes not from the attitude verb, but instead from the embedded verbal mood. What differentiates Italian from related languages where `believe‘ only takes indicative, is that Italian allows the subjunctive to access the common ground as a modal base, utilizing the verb’s doxastic background as an ordering source. The fact that subjunctive relates the common ground to the subject’s beliefs explains the discourse oriented meaning of this combination. We extend our analysis to several other predicates that show mood variation in Italian.