|Title:||The Semantics of the Future||Add Dissertation|
|Author:||Bridget Copley||Update Dissertation|
|Email:||click here to access email|
|Institution:||Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy|
Kai von Fintel
|Abstract:||Natural languages use a number of different methods to refer to future eventualities: among them are futurates, as in (1a), and futures, as in (1b,c):
(1) a The Red Sox (are) play(ing) the Yankees tomorrow.
b We'll change your oil in Madera.
c We're going to change your oil in Madera.
This dissertation uses evidence primarily from English, with additional data from Turkish and Indonesian, to argue that these methods all involve universal quantification over subsets of metaphysically accessible futures.
One factor in determining which worlds a modal quantifies over is the temporal argument of the modal's accessibility relation. It is well-known that a higher tense affects the accessibility relation of modals. What is not well-known is that there are aspectual operators high enough to affect the accessibility relation of modals. New data presented in this dissertation reveal the presence of aspectual operators located between TP and the future modal projection. The
effects of these operators on truth and assertability conditions provide substantial information about the correct characterization of future modality, and indeed of modality in general. Furthermore, the very existence of such aspectual operators raises questions about how aspect is represented in the semantics, if, as is generally assumed, aspectual operators take event arguments, which do not occur outside of the verb phrase.
In addition, the ordering source in futures is found to be determined in some cases by animate entities' abilities and commitments (bouletic ordering sources), and in other cases by more general properties of the world (inertial ordering sources). Since other modals in other languages seem to share this property, a unification of the two kinds of ordering sources is proposed.