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      Mood variation with belief predicates: Modal comparison and the raisability of questions

      1 , 2
      Glossa: a journal of general linguistics
      Open Library of the Humanities

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          Abstract

          This paper proposes that subjunctive in the complement of belief sentences in Italian expresses a relation between the attitude holder’s beliefs and the common ground. In contrast to most other Romance languages, ‘believe’ commonly and prescriptively takes subjunctive in Italian, though indicative is found as well, and as has been observed in the literature, the choice of indicative or subjunctive has semantic effects. We show that the indicative with ‘believe’ is used when the belief statement describes the personal mental state of the holder of the attitude, an interpretation that follows from the traditional Hintikkean semantics. In contrast, we show that subjunctive with ‘believe’ is used to mark a relation between the content of belief and the discourse context. To analyze these facts, we propose that the modal quantification present in attitude reports comes not from the attitude verb, but instead from the embedded verbal mood. What differentiates Italian from related languages where ‘believe’ only takes indicative, is that Italian allows the subjunctive to access the com- mon ground as a modal base, utilizing the verb’s doxastic background as an ordering source. The fact that subjunctive relates the common ground to the subject’s beliefs explains the discourse oriented meaning of this combination. We extend our analysis to several other predicates that show mood variation in Italian.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Glossa: a journal of general linguistics
          Open Library of the Humanities
          2397-1835
          April 15 2020
          December 8 2021
          : 40
          : 1
          Affiliations
          [1 ]Institut Jean Nicod
          [2 ]Georgetown University
          Article
          10.16995/glossa.5726
          46e53894-f349-419c-b5ac-0debdfe21d87
          © 2021

          https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

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          Self URI (article page): https://www.glossa-journal.org/article/id/5726/

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