Linguistics and Philosophy

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 357–379 | Cite as

On the representation of modality

  • Evelyn N. Ransom


In this paper I argue that noun complement modality cannot be treated as dependent on the meanings of lexical embedding predicates or of abstract performatives. Using two types of complement modalities, I show that their meanings and restrictions remain distinct and invariable regardless of the meanings of their embedding predicates. Then, using embedding predicates that can take both types of modalities, I show that the embedding predicates retain their meanings, regardless of the different modalities of their complements, and they can undergo deletions requiring their identity.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bresnan, J.: 1972, Theory of Complementation in English Syntax. Unpublished dissertation, MIT.Google Scholar
  2. Berman, A.: 1966, ‘Agent, Experience, and Controllability’, in Mathematical Linguistics and Automatic Translation, Report NSF-17, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  3. Dowty, D.: 1972, Studies in the Logic of Verb Aspect and Time Reference in English. Report to the National Science Foundation, Austin, Texas.Google Scholar
  4. Fischer, S. and B. Marshall: 1969, The Examination and Abandonment of the Theory of Begin of D. M. Perlmutter. Indiana University Linguistic Club.Google Scholar
  5. Givón, T.: 1975, ‘Cause and control: On the Semantics of Interpersonal Manipulation’, in Kimball ed., Syntax and Semantics, vol. 4, Academic Press.Google Scholar
  6. Jackendoff, R.: 1972, Semantic Interpretation in Generative Grammar. MIT Press.Google Scholar
  7. Karttunen, L.: 1971, ‘Implicative Verbs’, Language 47, No. 2.Google Scholar
  8. Katz, J. J., and P. M. Postal: 1964, An Integrated Theory of Linguistic Descriptions. MIT Press.Google Scholar
  9. Lakoff, R.: 1970, Irregularity in Syntax. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.Google Scholar
  10. Lakoff, R.: 1968, Abstract Syntax and Latin Complementation. MIT Press.Google Scholar
  11. Langendoen, D. T.: 1968, ‘Modal Auxiliaries in Infinitive Clauses in English’. Working Papers in Linguistics, No. 3, Ohio State University.Google Scholar
  12. McCawley, J.: 1968, ‘The Role of Semantics in a Grammar’, in Bach and Harms eds., Universals in Linguistic Theory. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.Google Scholar
  13. Morgan, J.: 1973, Presupposition and the Representation of Meaning Prolegomena. Unpublished dissertation, University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  14. Newmeyer, F.: 1969, ‘English Aspectual Verbs’, University of Washington Studies in Linguistics and Language Learning, vol. 6.Google Scholar
  15. Perlmutter, D.: 1971, Deep and Surface Structure Constrainst in Syntax. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.Google Scholar
  16. Postal, P. M.: 1970a, ‘On the Surface Verb “Remind”’, Linguistic Inquiry 1, No. 1.Google Scholar
  17. Postal, P. M.: 1970b, ‘On Coreferential Complement Subject Deletion’, Linguistic Inquiry 1, No. 4.Google Scholar
  18. Ransom, E.: 1974a, A Semantic and Syntactic Analysis of Noun Complement Constructions in English. Unpublished dissertation, University of Illinois.Google Scholar
  19. Ransom, E.: 1974b, ‘The Semantic components of Modality: or Why It's Not Only Possible But Necessary to Do It’. Paper presented at L.S.A. Winter Meeting.Google Scholar
  20. Ross, J. R.: 1969, ‘Auxiliaries as Main Verbs’, in Todd ed., Studies in Philosophical Linguistics. Great Expectations.Google Scholar
  21. Ross, J. R.: 1970, ‘On Declarative Sentences’, in Jacobs and Rosenbaum, eds., Readings in English Transformational Grammar. Ginn and Company.Google Scholar
  22. Ross, J. R.: 1972, ‘Act’, in D. Davidson and G. Harmon, eds., Semantics of Natural Language. D. Reidel Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  23. Sadock, J.: 1969, ‘Hypersentences’, in Papers in Linguistics 1.Google Scholar
  24. Sadock, J.: 1974, Toward a Linguistic Theory of Speech Acts. Academic Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Evelyn N. Ransom
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations