On truth persistence
Current issues in linguistic theory
This paper analyzes a non-temporal interpretation of the adverb sempre 'always' in European Portuguese and Italian, in which the adverb expresses persistence of the truth of a proposition over time and displays specific contextual constraints (TP-sempre). Despite an overlap in the contexts in which TPsempre may occur in both languages, we provide data showing that its distribution is not exactly the same in European Portuguese and Italian. In view of these data, we propose that TP-sempre is a
... dal operator of confirmation in both languages, but that it is more restricted in Italian in that it has a plan presupposition only in this language. the speaker confirms the truth of a proposition that had already been accepted by the interlocutors and had later become uncertain. 1 The semantic contribution of sempre in (1a,b) differs greatly from the one of always in the English sentence (2): (2) I always go to the movies on Sunday night. This sentence means that the speaker goes as a habit to the movies on every Sunday night. The present tense is interpreted generically, and the temporal adverbial on Sunday night also receives a generic interpretation, as referring to whatever Sunday night within an unbounded time interval surrounding the utterance. The semantic contribution of always to the sentence meaning is quantificational: the adverb is used to universally quantify over Sunday nights explicitly, 2 not to convey that a plan of the speaker continues to be valid at utterance time. 3 We will refer to the interpretation of sempre in (1a,b) as the truth-persistence value (TP-value), and will use the term TP-sempre to talk about the occurrences of this adverb that show this value. The TP-value is opposed to the more familiar interpretation that sempre exhibits in (3a,b), which correspond to the English sentence (2) above: extensively discussed in the semantic literature since Lewis ' (1975) work on adverbs of quantification, and has turned out to be of utmost importance in the study of the formal properties of generic sentences (e.g. Krifka et al. 1995 ). We will not have much to say about this value in what follows, apart from suggesting that the TP-valueour main target in this paperis not reducible to it. The rest of the paper is organized as follows. In section 2 we give a first description of the TP-value of sempre in EP and Italian. Section 3 broadens the empirical domain and discusses some differences between EP and Italian with regard to the distribution of TP-sempre. We argue that, contrary to what one might think on the basis of the intuitive equivalence between (1a) and (1b) , TP-sempre does not have exactly the same semantic properties in EP and Italian. In light of such differences, in section 4 we present our analysis of TP-sempre for EP and Italian, relying on the hypothesis that in both languages TP-sempre denotes a modal operator yielding confirmation of a proposition, but in Italian it has a plan presupposition that the argument proposition p must satisfy for the utterance of sempre(p) to be acceptable. Section 5 provides concluding remarks. The TP-value: Empirical data from European Portuguese and Italian In Portuguese the TP-value of sempre is only found in the European variety, where it is syntactically restricted to the preverbal position (Lopes 1998 , Brito 2001 checking if you still have this intention, i.e. if the truth of the proposition that you're going to buy the red car persists at utterance time. This contrasts with the focus-sensitive character of alla fine 'in the end' (afinal in EP seems to have similar properties), which can associate with subsentential focus, as in the following question (capitals indicate focal stress): (33) Alla fine compri l'auto ROSSA? 'In the end, are you going to buy the RED car?' What is presupposed to be in the background in this case is not the proposition that you're going to buy the red car, but the less determinate proposition that you're going to buy some car (within a contextually given choice set, which may include, for example, a red car and a blue car), while it is an open issue whether you will eventually buy the red car or another previously considered car. Our conclusion is that TP-sempre is generally associated with the whole proposition in both EP and I, and hence differs from similar adverbs such as alla fine / afinal, or sempre in its Q-value. The analysis Given the differences between EP and Italian that we have described in sect. 3, we propose separate analyses for TP-sempre in the two languages.