Brave new would

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In a recent series of papers, Birner, Kaplan, and Ward (Birner, Kaplan & Ward 2007; Ward, Kaplan & Birner 2007; Ward, Birner & Kaplan 2003) have argued that copular sentences of the form That would be XP as in (1) are equative clauses with a referential subject (Heycock & Kroch 1997) and a focus-functional modal operator (Rooth 1985, 1992; Beaver & Clark 2003): At issue is the correct overall syntactic and semantic analysis of such sentences and, in particular, the semantic-pragmatic status of the subject demonstrative pronoun (that), the epistemic modal (would), and the postverbal constituent. In this paper, I review the analysis of Birner, Kaplan, and Ward (henceforth BK&W) and then compare it to a competing analysis (Mikkelsen 2004, 2007) in which copular sentences are analyzed as specificational rather than equative (Higgins 1979). I then provide additional evidence in favor of the BK&W analysis by reporting on a series of empirical prosodic studies that were conducted in collaboration with Julia Hirschberg and colleagues at Columbia University (Gravano et al. in press).
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings from the Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society
PublisherChicago Linguistic Society
Number of pages25
StatePublished - 2008


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