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.

Full Text:



Alonso-Ovalle, Luis & Henrison Hsieh. forthcoming. Overcoming the unexpected: The Tagalog ability / involuntary action form. In Will Bennett, Lindsay Hracs & Dennis Storoshenko (eds.), Proceedings of the 35th Annual West Coast Confer- ence on Formal Linguistics, Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.

Baglini, Rebekah & Itamar Francez. 2016. The implications of managing. Journal of Semantics 33(3). 541–560. doi:doi:10.1093/jos/ffv007.

Davis, Henry, Lisa Matthewson & Hotze Rullmann. 2007. A unified modal semantics for ‘out-of-control’ marking in St’át’imcets. In Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society 43(2), 19–28. Chicago Linguistic Society.

Davis, Henry, Lisa Matthewson & Hotze Rullmann. 2009. ‘Out of control’ marking as circumstantial modality in St’át’imcets. In Lotte Hogeweg, Helen de Hoop & Andrej Malchukov (eds.), Cross-linguistic semantics of tense, aspect and modality, 205–244. John Benjamins.

Dell, François. 1983. An aspectual distinction in Tagalog. Oceanic Linguistics 22/23(1/2). 175–206.

Karttunen, Lauri. 1971. Implicative verbs. Language 47. 340–358.

Kaufmann, Stefan. 2013. Causal premise semantics. Cognitive Science 37. 1136–1170.

Kratzer, Angelika. 1981. The notional category of modality. In H. J. Eikmeyer &

H. Rieser (eds.), Words, Worlds, and Contexts, 38–74. Berlin and New York: De

Gruyter. Reprinted and updated in Kratzer (2012).

Kratzer, Angelika. 1991. Modality. In Arnim von Stechow & Dieter Wunderlich

(eds.), Semantics: An International Handbook of Contemporary Research, 639–

Berlin: de Gruyter.

Kratzer, Angelika. 2012. Modals and Conditionals: New and Revised Perspectives.

Oxford University Press.

Martin, Fabienne. forthcoming. Non-culminating accomplishments and defeasible

causative verbs. Language and Linguistics Compass .

Paul, Ileana, Baholisoa Simone Ralalaoherivony & Henriëtte de Swart. 2016. Mala-

gasy maha at the crossroads of voice, causation and modality. In Proceedings of

nd Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, 353–369.

Schachter, Paul & Fe Otanes. 1972. Tagalog Reference Grammar. University of

California Press.

Schulz, Katrin. 2011. If you’d wiggle A, then B would’ve changed. Synthese (179).


Thomason, Richmond H. 2014. Formal semantics for causal constructions. In

Bridget Copley & Fabienne Martin (eds.), Causation in Grammatical Structures, 58–75. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Copyright (c) 2017 Luis Alonso-Ovalle, Henrison Hsieh