Zahra Mirrazi (UMass Amherst) & Hedde Zeijlstra (University of Göttingen)

Ling O: Conditionals and tense (advanced!)

Hedde Zeijlstra (University of Göttingen) Zahra Mirrazi ()
Many unrelated languages use past tense in the antecedent of X-marked (a.k.a subjunctive/counterfactual) conditionals, as in `If kangaroos had no tails, they would topple over.'  whose antecedent is understood to be false in reality (Kangaroos have tails). The occurrence of the past tense on the antecedent predicate of X-marked conditionals is not interpreted as determining the temporal location of the antecedent. Therefore, all theories of X-marking agree that the past tense morphology within the antecedent of X-marked conditionals is fake in one way or the other. There are other structures across languages where past tenses do not contribute their deictic meaning. The sequence of tense (SoT) phenomenon is a well-known example of this. In "Mary said Sue was sleeping“ the saying and the sleeping event can take place simultaneously. In this lecture series, we focus on the connection between X-marked conditionals and patterns of sequence of tense across different languages. Some prior knowledge of formal semantics and generative syntax is required.