Sabine Iatridou, MIT

Fake things here and there; evidence form now and then

Morphosyntactic elements combine to yield a “counterfactual inference” without the use of negation. For example, (1a) creates the inference in (1b):

1a. If I had a car now, I would give you a ride

  b. I do not have a car now

A number of accounts exist in the literature about the contribution of the unexpected Past Tense in (1a) in creating the counterfactual inference.  

However, in many languages, there is also an unexpected, but obligatory, occurrence of Imperfective aspect. One example is French:

2. Si Pierre partait demain,                       il arriverait            là-bas la semaine prochaine

     if Pierre leave.PST.IMP   tomorrow,  he arrive.FUT.PST. IMP there the week next
     ‘If Pierre left tomorrow, he would arrive there next week.’

The imperfective is unexpected in (2) because the interpretation is perfective. A lot less attention has been paid to the role of the Imperfective in creating the CF inference. Exceptions are Anand and Hacquard 2010, Ferreira 2014, Grønn 2013.

In this talk we reexamine some of the issues involved in this debate, with an emphasis on Romance, Greek, and Russian.