, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 151-196
Date: 12 Nov 2008

Intensionality, high applicatives, and aspect: involuntary state constructions in Bulgarian and Slovenian

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This paper discusses Bulgarian and Slovenian constructions with a dispositional reading and no apparent dispositional marker, such as Bulgarian Na Ivan mu se raboteše. Such a sentence combines a dative logical subject Ivan with an inflected verb raboteše ‘work’, and roughly corresponds to ‘Ivan was in a working mood’, so does not entail that Ivan worked. I argue that such constructions consist of two core ingredients that account both for their syntactic properties, and for their modal flavor as dispositions. One ingredient is an Imperfective Operator in Viewpoint Aspect as the source of modality. Such an Operator resembles in syntactic and semantic properties both the Progressive Operator in so-called English Futurates such as For two weeks, the Red Sox were playing the Yankees today, and the Spanish modal Imperfecto. The other ingredient is a High Applicative Phrase with an oblique subject, which, other than determining syntactic properties, contributes to a difference in modal flavor with English Futurates. English Futurates denote plans, and a hypothesis is that this is due to their nominative subjects being paired to a presupposition giving them control over the intended event. By contrast, the Slavic constructions in this paper denote dispositions, not plans, because their oblique subjects cannot be paired with a similar presupposition.

This paper was partially subsidized by SSHRC Research Grant 410-2006-0150. Special thanks go to Milena M. Sheppard for joint work that made the proposals in this article possible, to Nikolay Slavkov for constant intellectual help on Bulgarian, to Dalina Kallulli for much useful advice through the years, and to Rok Žaucer for numerous suggestions beyond the call of duty on a topic where we seem to disagree. Earlier versions have also benefited from very useful comments from three anonymous reviewers, and from Marcel den Dikken. Usual disclaimers apply. Abbreviations are as follows: 1, 2, 3 = First, Second, and Third Person. Aor = Aorist (Bulgarian). Aux = Auxiliary Verb for Past. Dat = Dative. Fut = Future Auxiliary or Particle. Imp = Imperfect (Bulgarian) and Imperfecto (Spanish). Inf = Infinitive. Neg = Negation. Neu = Neuter. Nom = Nominative. P = Preposition as Dative Marker. Pl = Plural. Pf = Perfective prefix. Pret = Preterit or Pretérito (Spanish). Pple = Participle. Q = Question Particle (Bulgarian). Refl = Reflexive Clitic. Sg = Singular.