Epistemic stance without epistemic modals: the case of the presumptive future

Michela Ippolito, Donka F. Farkas


This paper deals with the non-temporal use of the future in Italian known
as ‘epistemic’ or ‘presumptive’ (PF) in declaratives and interrogatives. We first
distinguish PF from epistemic necessity and possibility, as well as from weak
necessity modals, providing in the process the main empirical challenges PF raises.
We then propose and justify a semantic account that treats PF as a special normality
modal that involves a subjective likelihood component. Since in our account the
prejacent (the proposition in the scope of the modal) is at issue, the use of PF triggers
the implicature that the speaker is not in a position to appeal to what she knows in
order to support her commitment to the prejacent. This, we claim, is the source of
the intuition that PF is often used to offer a “guess” relative to the question under
discussion (QUD).

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3765/salt.v29i0.4617

Copyright (c) 2019 Donka F. Farkas