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Mood, Aspect, Modality Revisited

New Answers to Old Questions

Over the past several decades, linguistic theorizing of tense, aspect, and mood (TAM), along with a strongly growing body of crosslinguistic studies, has revealed complexity in the data that challenges traditional distinctions and treatments of these categories. Mood, Aspect, Modality Revisited argues that it’s time to revisit our conventional assumptions and reconsider our foundational questions: What exactly is a linguistic category? What kinds of categories do labels such as “subjunctive,” “imperative,” “future,” and “modality” truly refer to? In short, how categorical are categories?

Current literature assumes a straightforward link between grammatical category and semantic function, and descriptions of well-studied languages have cultivated a sense of predictability in patterns over time. As the editors and contributors of Mood, Aspect, Modality Revisited prove, however, this predictability and stability vanish in the study of lesser-known patterns and languages. The ten provocative essays gathered here present fascinating cutting-edge research demonstrating that the traditional grammatical distinctions are ultimately fluid—and perhaps even illusory. Developing groundbreaking and highly original theories, the contributors in this volume seek to unravel more general, fundamental principles of TAM that can help us better understand the nature of linguistic representations.

400 pages | 17 halftones, 15 line drawings, 14 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2016

Language and Linguistics: General Language and Linguistics, Phonology and Phonetics, Syntax and Semantics


“This will clearly be one of the top book-length works in semantics this year. All of the contributors to Mood, Aspect, Modality Revisited are giants in the field, and each has made a strong contribution. The scholarship is all original, sound, and of extremely high quality. In fact, many of the papers include original data from fieldwork or experimental studies. The overarching goal that the editors set out to achieve is to question the traditional grammatical categories of tense, aspect, and mood, and the book does a strong job raising these issues and providing analyses across a wide variety of TAM phenomena. Although there are other recent books on tense, aspect, and mood, this one stands out starkly above the rest.”

Robert Henderson, University of Arizona

“This volume is an important contribution to the study of tense, aspect, modality, and mood. Its focus on crosslinguistic variation and its commitment to diverse methodologies in tackling outstanding problems pave the way for exciting, new research.”

Daniel Altshuler, Hampshire College

Mood, Aspect, Modality Revisited offers a significant focus on the subjunctive and modality in relation to tense and aspect, a very intriguing topic that deserves more attention in the field. The chapters are thematically related in an interesting way, and the contributors are eminent scholars in their field. The discussion throughout the book is fresh and original. It will be of particular interest to specialists in semantics and the syntax-semantics interface, as well as syntacticians in the generative framework.”

Atle Grønn, University of Oslo

Table of Contents


PART I. Tense, Aspect, and Modals: Their Categorial Status and Cross- linguistic Variation

Chapter 1. TAM Coding and Temporal Interpretation in West African Languages
Anne Mucha and Malte Zimmermann

Chapter 2. Modals: Meaning Categories?
Valentine Hacquard

Chapter 3. Epistemic Future and Epistemic MUST: Nonveridicality, Evidence, and Partial Knowledge
Anastasia Giannakidou and Alda Mari

PART II. Irrealis Moods: Subjunctive and Imperative

Chapter 4. On Finiteness and the Left Periphery: Focusing on Subjunctive
Manuela Ambar

Chapter 5. Evaluative Subjunctive and Nonveridicality
Anastasia Giannakidou

Chapter 6. The Essence of a Category: Lessons from the Subjunctive
Martina Wiltschko

Chapter 7. Imperatives as (Non-)modals
Mark Jary and Mikhail Kissine

Chapter 8. Approaching the Morphosyntax and Semantics of Mood
Ilse Zimmermann

PART III. Aspectual Recursion and Aspectual Coercion

Chapter 9. Aspectual Composition and Recursion
Henriëtte de Swart

Chapter 10. Can Semantic Theories Be Tested Experimentally? The Case of Aspectual Coercion
Oliver Bott

Chapter 11. Aspectual Coercion versus Blocking: Experimental Evidence from an ERP Study of Polish Converbs
Joanna Błaszczak and Dorota Klimek- Jankowska

About the Editors

About the Contributors


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