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Modality Across Syntactic Categories$
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Ana Arregui, María Luisa Rivero, and Andrés Salanova

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198718208

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198718208.001.0001

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Straddling the line between attitude verbs and necessity modals

Straddling the line between attitude verbs and necessity modals

(p.109) 7 Straddling the line between attitude verbs and necessity modals
Modality Across Syntactic Categories

Aynat Rubinstein

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the semantic properties of verbs and adjectives with closely related meanings having to do with desires and goals. I evaluate recent work on verbs of desire (e.g. ‘want’) which has suggested that these attitude predicates require access to multiple alternatives for their interpretation (Villalta 2006, 2008). I argue that this heavy machinery is in fact not required, integrating important insights proposed in this recent work into a quantificational modal analysis of comparison-based attitudes. The proposed analysis highlights the similarities and differences between ‘want’ and ‘necessary’, an adjective that is shown (including naturalistic corpus data) to be primarily goal-oriented and to be semantically dependent to a certain degree on the syntactic configuration it appears in. Whether or not the modality is lexically relativized to an individual is also suggested to play a role in defining the semantic properties of desire- and goal-oriented modal expressions.

Keywords:   attitude verbs, desire verbs, modal adjectives, priority modals, ‘want,’ ‘necessary,’ syntax–semantics interface

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