Decomposing 'As If'

Authors

  • Jessica Rett UCLA Linguistics
  • W. Starr Cornell University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.3765/salt.v1i0.5423

Abstract

‘As if’ constructions have been analyzed as only verbal (Bücking 2017) or idiomatic (Bledin & Srinivas 2019, 2020). We argue that ‘as if’ constructions have the same distribution as any clausal similative (i.e. any ‘as’ construction): they can associate with verbal arguments or propositions. And we argue that ‘as if’ constructions are a common and productive cross-linguistic phenomenon, reliably formed with a relativizer; a question subordinator; and X-marking. We thus present a compositional analysis of the constructions based on extant analyses of as (and its cross-linguistic counterparts) as a relativizer (Rett 2013, among others); if as a question subordinator (Starr 2014b, among others); and X-marking as encoding a similarity relation across possible worlds (Schulz 2014; von Fintel & Iatridou 2020). In addition to being compositional, this approach can better account for the wide distribution of ‘as if’ constructions both within a language and across languages.

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Published

2023-01-23

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Section

Articles