Non-at-issueness of since-clauses

Isabelle Charnavel


This paper explores the discourse status of English causal clauses introduced by since. Tests for non-at-issueness demonstrate that neither the relation (between the subordinate and the superordinate clause) expressed by since nor the content of the subordinate clause is at-issue. Other diagnostics further show that these two not-at-issue contents triggered by since belong to two different classes of projective content. This can be accounted for by attributing two different sources to their non-at-issueness: the relation expressed by since is not-at-issue for structural reasons, i.e. because since-clauses modify high evidential or speech act phrases, which are not-at-issue; the content of the subordinate clause is not-at-issue because since lexically selects factive clauses. More generally, this study (and future comparative studies on other subordinators) promises to shed further light on the constraints on different contents projected by the same trigger and the role played by structure in non-at-issueness.

Full Text:



Abrusan, Márta. 2016. Presupposition cancellation: explaining the ‘soft–hard’ trigger distinction. Natural Language Semantics 24, 165–202.

Anand, Pranav & Valentine Hacquart. 2013. Epistemics and attitudes. Semantics and Pragmatics 6(8), 1–59.

Antomo, Malin. 2009. Interpreting embedded verb second: causal modifiers in German. Conference of the Student Organisation of Linguistics in Europe (ConSOLE) 17, 27–51.

Charnavel, Isabelle. 2017a. Perspective on causal clauses. North East Linguistics Society (NELS) 47.

Charnavel, Isabelle. 2017b. French causal puisque-clauses in the light of (not)-at-issueness. Linguistic Symposium of Romance Languages (LSRL) 47.

Chierchia, Gennaro & Sally McConnell-Ginet. 2000. Meaning and Grammar: An Introduction to Semantics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Cinque, Guglielmo. 1999. Adverbs and Functional Heads: A Cross-linguistic Perspective. New York: Oxford University Press.

Faller, Martina. 2002. Semantics and pragmatics of evidentials in Cuzco Quecha. Stanford, CA: Stanford University PhD dissertation.

Groupe Lambda-1. 1975. Car, parce que, puisque. Revue Romane 10, 248–280.

Haegeman, Liliane & Virginia Hill. 2013. The syntacticization of discourse. In Raffaella Folli, Robert Truswell & Christina Sevdali (eds), Syntax and its Limits, 370–390. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Iatridou, Sabine. 1991. Topics in conditionals. Cambridge, MA: MIT PhD dissertation.

Johnston, Michael James Robert. 1994. The syntax and semantics of adverbial adjuncts. Santa Cruz, CA: University of California Santa Cruz PhD dissertation.

Karttunen, Lauri. 1974. Presuppositions and linguistic context. Theoretical Linguistics 1, 181–194.

Kratzer, Angelika. 2006. Decomposing attitude verbs. Talk given at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Krifka, Manfred. 2014. Embedding illocutionary acts. In Recursion: Complexity in Cognition, 59–87. Springer International Publishing.

Murray, Sarah. 2010. Evidentiality and the structure of speech acts. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University PhD dissertation.

Potts, Christopher. 2005. The Logic of Conventional Implicatures. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Roberts, Craige. 1996. Information structure in discourse: towards an integrated formal theory of pragmatics. Working Papers in Linguistics 49: Papers in Semantics. Ohio State University.

Rutherford, William. 1970. Some observations concerning subordinate clauses in English. Language 46, 97–115.

Sæbø, Kjell Johan. 1991. Causal and purposive clauses. In Arnim von Stechow & Dieter Wunderlich (eds.). Semantik – Semantics. Ein internationales Handbuch zeitgenössischer Forschung – An International Handbook of Contemporary Research (HSK 6), 623–631. Berlin: de Gruyter.

Sæbø, Kjell Johan. 2016. Information structure and presupposition. The Oxford Handbook of Information Structure, chapter 7.

Scheffler, Tatjana. 2008. Semantic operators in different dimensions. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania PhD dissertation.

Shanon, Benny. 1976. On the two kinds of presuppositions in natural language. Foundations of Language 14, 247–249.

Simons, Mandy, Judith Tonhauser, David Beaver & Craige Roberts. 2010. What projects and why. In Nan Li & David Lutz (eds.), Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 20, 309–327. Ithaca, NY: CLC.

Speas, Margaret & Carol Tenny. 2003. Configurational properties of point of view roles. In Anna Maria DiSciullo (ed), Asymmetry in Grammar, 315–344. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Speas, Margaret. 2004. Evidentiality, logophoricity and the syntactic representation of pragmatic features. Lingua 114, 255–276.

von Fintel, Kai. 2004. Would you believe it? The king of France is back! Presuppositions and truth value intuitions. In Marga Reimer & Anne Bezuidenhout (eds.), Descriptions and Beyond, 315–341. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

von Fintel, Kai & Anthony S. Gillies. 2010. Must... stay... strong! Natural Language Semantics 18(4), 351–383.

Tonhauser, Judith. 2012. Diagnosing (not-)at-issue content. Semantics of Under-represented Languages in the Americas (SULA) 6, 239–254.

Tonhauser, Judith, Beaver, David, Roberts, Craige & Mandy Simons. 2013. Toward a taxonomy of projective content. Language 89(1), 66–109.