Gradability across grammatical domains
This paper argues that ordered abstract scales are applicable to analyses of a range of grammatical domains. We argue this based on data from a number of unrelated languages, primarily Logoori (Bantu, JE 41; Kenya). The Logoori verb kudoka can be translated into English as ‘to arrive’/‘to reach,’ ‘to be enough,’ and ‘must,’ depending on its linguistic context. We propose that these meanings arise from a single semantic denotation that is sensitive to a shared gradable component in the semantics of linguistic expressions referring to spatial paths, gradable predicates, measures of plural count nouns/mass nouns, and modals. The central theoretical issue addressed in this paper is the application of ordered, abstract scales in a model of grammar. This data and proposal is an important contribution to the literature arguing for a gradable model of modality (Lassiter 2014, 2017b, among others).
Keywords: semantics, gradability, gradable predicates, modality, Bantu
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Published online: 18 January 2021
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