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Detail of contribution


Co-Auteur(s): Paula MENENDEZ-BENITO

Modal indefinites beyond speaker ignorance: "uno cualquiera" and "algún que otro"

Abstract/Résumé: The expression of modal meanings has been mainly studied in connection with verbal expressions, even when nominal expressions can also convey modality. For instance, across languages, we find a class of indefinite noun phrases that trigger modal inferences in the absence of an overt modal verb. Many of these modal indefinites signal that the speaker does not know which individual satisfies the existential claim. This class of epistemic indefinites has received a considerable amount of attention in the recent literature (see Alonso-Ovalle and Menéndez-Benito 2013 for an overview), but the type of modal meanings that indefinites convey is not limited to speaker´s ignorance. In this talk, we survey two types of Spanish modal indefinites that convey modal meanings that have not been studied in depth in the previous literature: "uno cualquiera" and "algún que otro". "Uno cualquiera" indicates that an agent made a random choice (Choi and Romero 2008, Alonso-Ovalle and Menéndez-Benito 2011). The sentence in (1) can be understood as saying that Juan took a card and that his choice was indiscriminate. (1) Juan cogió una carta cualquiera. Juan took a card cualquiera "Algun que otro" indicates 'ignorance of number.' The sentence in (2) conveys that the speaker believes that Juan read more than one book, but does not know how many books Juan read. (2) Juan leyó algún que otro libro. Juan read algún que otro book Recent literature on modal indefinites derives the modal component of epistemic indefinites by comparing the asserted existential claim with a number of alternatives. We show that both the random choice component of "uno cualquiera" and the ignorance effect of "algun que otro" are amenable to a similar analysis.