Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 285-312

Modal verbs in Catalan

  • M. Carme PicalloAffiliated withPh.D. Program in Spanish C.U.N.Y. Graduate Center

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In this paper it is argued that Catalan sequences of a (semi)-modal verb and an infinitive, which are traditionally known as RESTRUCTURING CONSTRUCTIONS, should be analyzed as base-generated monosentential complexes. It is claimed that in such complexes the infinitive verb, not the modal or the semi-modal, is the primary predicate determining the argument structure of the sentence and its basic syntactic configuration. Modals with the epistemic reading are analyzed as constituents of INFL, whereas root modals and semi-modals are analyzed as VP adjuncts. Evidence for this analysis is provided by a number of independent phenomena, including the distribution of en/ne cliticization of the subject, locality conditions on argument chain formation, interpretation of adjacent modals, restrictions on infinitive and gerund markers, interpretation of plural null pronominals, the distribution of auxiliaries, and clitic climbing.