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Epistemic IndefinitesExploring Modality Beyond the Verbal Domain$
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Luis Alonso-Ovalle and Paula Menéndez-Benito

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199665297

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199665297.001.0001

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Epistemic indefinites and methods of identification

Epistemic indefinites and methods of identification

(p.116) (p.117) 6 Epistemic indefinites and methods of identification
Epistemic Indefinites

Maria Aloni

Angelika Port

Oxford University Press

The chapter proposes an account of epistemic indefinites cross-linguistically, focusing on the case of German irgendein and Italian un qualche. Four main functions for EIs are identified initially: specific unknown (SU); epistemic unknown (epiU); negative polarity (NPI); and the deontic free choice (deoFC). It is subsequently observed that while irgendein qualifies for all functions, un qualche qualifies only for the first two. The second part of the chapter proposes an account of these data in the framework of a Dynamic Semantics with Conceptual Covers. Our point of departure is the assumption that epistemic indefinites are existentials with two additional characteristics: (i) they induce an obligatory domain shift and (ii) they are felicitous only if such a shift is for a reason.

Keywords:   epistemic indefinites, free choice, negative polarity, conceptual cover, dynamic semantics, epistemic and deontic modals

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