Interface Explorations

Band 8:
Bhatt, Rajesh: Covert Modality in Non-finite Contexts. VIII/204 S. - Berlin / New York: de Gruyter, 2006.
ISBN: 978-3-11-017952-1
Alternatives Medium:
E-Book (PDF). Berlin / New York: de Gruyter. ISBN: 978-3-11-019734-1

This book investigates the distribution and interpretation of Covert Modality. Covert Modality is modality which we interpret but which is not associated with any lexical item in the structure that we are interpreting. This dissertation investigates a class of environments that involves covert modality. Examples of covert modality include wh-infinitival complements, infinitival relative clauses, purpose clauses, the 'have to' construction, and the 'is to' construction (cf. 1):

1a. Tim knows [how to solve the problem]. ("Tim knows how one/he could/should solve the problem.")
1b. Jane found [a book to draw cartoons in] for Sara. ("Jane found a book for Sara one could/should draw cartoons in.")
1c. [The man to fix the sink] is here. ("The man whose purpose is to fix the sink is here.")
1d. Sue went to Torino [to buy a violin]. ("Sue went to Torino so that she could buy a violin.")
1e. Bill has to reach Philadelphia before noon. ("Bill must reach Philadelphia before noon.")
1f. Will is to leave tomorrow. ("Will is scheduled/supposed to leave tomorrow.")

The interpretation of (1a-f) involves modality; however, there is no lexical item that seems to be the source of the modality. What (1a-f) have in common is that they involve infinitivals. This book addresses the following questions about covert modality: what is the source of this modality, what are its semantic properties, why are some but not all infinitival relatives modal, and why are all infinitival questions modal? The infinitival [+wh] Complementizer is identified as the source of the covert modality. The apparent variability of the force of this modality is related to the particular semantics of this Complementizer. Infinitival relatives that receive a non-modal interpretation are analyzed as being reduced relatives and thus not involving the infinitival [+wh] Complementizer.


Preface S. IX
1. Introduction
1.   Issues S. 1
2.   Outline and summary S. 3
2. The syntax of infinitival relatives
1.   Subject infinitival relatives as reduced relatives S. 9
2.   Non-subject infinitival relatives S. 11
3.   The modality of infinitival relatives and questions S. 13
4.   Structures for reduced relatives S. 19
5.   Arguments for a raising analysis of relative clauses S. 22
6.   Our proposal for reduced relatives S. 30
7.   Conclusions S. 39
3. Non-Modal subject infinitival relatives
1.   Properties of non-modal infinitival relatives S. 41
2.   A raising analysis of non-modal infinitival relatives S. 47
3.   Motivating movement of est/ordinals/only S. 50
4.   More on the licensing of the non-modal interpretation S. 58
5.   Loss of focus-sensitivity with non-modal infinitival relatives S. 61
6.   Interpretation of the non-modal infinitival clauses S. 67
7.   Appendix A: Semantics of only and first S. 95
8.   Appendix B: in situ licensing of non-modal infinitives S. 97
9.   Conclusions S. 99
4. Infinitival questions
1.   Infinitival questions: distribution and subcategorization S. 101
2.   Modality S. 117
3.   The modality in infinitival questions S. 125
4.   Variable modal force in infinitival relatives S. 152
5.   Conclusions S. 158
5. Ability modals and their actuality entailments
1.   The ambiguity of was able to S. 159
2.   A correlation between aspect and actuality implications S. 161
3.   The actuality implication and its relationship with ability S. 164
4.   Compositional derivation S. 168
5.   Conclusions and extensions S. 172
Notes S. 177
References S. 189
Index S. 201


  • Abraham, Werner (2009): Rezension von: Rajesh Bhatt: Covert Modality in Non-finite Contexts. In: Linguistische Berichte 219. Hamburg: Buske. S. 377-379.