Causes and Expectations: On the Interpretation of the Tagalog Ability/Involuntary Action Form

Luis Alonso-Ovalle, Henrison Hsieh


The Tagalog Ability / Involuntary Action (AIA) verbal form conveys apparently unrelated modal meanings: that an action was within what an agent could do or that it was beyond what an agent could control, for instance. Recent analyses for the Malagasy and St’át’imcets counterparts of this form propose that this morphology contributes circumstantial modality and conveys, roughly, that the event that it describes follows from a set of facts (Davis, Matthewson & Rullmann 2009; Paul, Ralalaoherivony & de Swart 2016). In Alonso-Ovalle & Hsieh forthcoming we discuss some challenges for extending this type of analysis to Tagalog. Here, we present an alternative proposal. We follow previous analyses in assuming that the AIA form projects its domain of possibilities from a set of facts, but depart from these analyses in proposing (i) that the modal component of the Tagalog AIA form is non-at-issue and (ii) that it conveys, via a presupposition, that, given the facts that the described event is assumed to causally depend on, this event was not expected.

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