Modification of DPs by epistemic adverbs

Condoravdi Cleo, Mary Dalrymple, Dag Haug, Adam Przepiórkowski


We examine two phenomena which, with the exception of Bogal-Allbritten & Weir (2017), have not been systematically studied together but are clearly related: (a) epistemic adverbs in ad-nominal positions modifying a DP outside of coordination and (b) epistemic adverbs modifying a DP within a coordination of DPs (Collins conjunction). Ad-nominal adverbs outside of coordinate structures have been claimed to have a strong reading giving rise to an existential entailment ("John visited maybe England" entails that John visited some place, and that place might have been England) while in Collins conjunctions, a weak reading with no existential implication has been claimed to be available ("John and perhaps Mary went to the store" means that either John went to the store, or John and Mary went to the store). We provide corpus data which show that weak and strong readings are available both inside and outside coordination, and we provide a unified analysis of both phenomena based in event semantics which allows modal adverbs to have sub-sentential scope and still target expressions of propositional type. Our analysis relies on the flexible approach to semantic composition afforded by glue semantics (Dalrymple 1999; Gotham 2018), where a functor can "ignore" unsaturated positions in its arguments.

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