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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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In an imperfect world: Deriving the typology of counterfactual marking

In an imperfect world: Deriving the typology of counterfactual marking

(p.157) 9 In an imperfect world: Deriving the typology of counterfactual marking
Modality Across Syntactic Categories

Bronwyn M. Bjorkman

Claire Halpert

Oxford University Press

Much work has focused on the use of “fake”’ past in marking counterfactual clauses. This chapter focuses instead on the contribution of aspect, evaluating claims that some languages require both fake past and fake (imperfective) aspect in counterfactual clauses. We argue that this appearance is an illusion, resulting from the fact that past tense forms are aspectually underspecified in many languages: this underspecification gives rise to an apparent requirement for imperfective marking in some languages (e.g. French, Zulu), but an apparent requirement for perfective marking in others (e.g. Palestinian Arabic). Finally, we suggest that in languages that truly require imperfective marking in counterfactuals, the requirement is for imperfective simpliciter, independent of tense (Hindi, Persian). The resulting typological picture has implications for how fake temporal marking is structurally represented in counterfactual clauses.

Keywords:   counterfactuals, tense, aspect, underspecification, typology

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