Linguistic perspective in causation

Isabelle Charnavel, Harvard University

It has long been observed that perspective sensitive elements such as logophoric pronouns or long distance reflexives can occur in causal adjunct clauses. The goal of the talk is to explore the consequences of this observation for the syntax and semantics of causal clauses. Based on the case study of clauses introduced by because and since in English, I argue that such adjuncts are intrinsically attitudinal: the causal relation expressed by the subordinator (because/since) between an argument A (roughly, the main clause) and its complement B (the subordinate clause) is established by a judge. The identity of the judge, which can be diagnosed by the use of elements oriented towards the speaker or the event participant in the adjunct clause, depends on the nature of A (namely event/state, proposition or speech act).
(1) Liz has a fever because she has malaria. (cause of state according to Liz or speaker)
(2) Liz has malaria since she has a fever. (reason for truth of proposition or cause of assertion according to speaker)
Moreover, the scope and judge possibilities of causal clauses increase in the presence of attitude clauses: an attitude holder can be the causal judge for an embedded state/event or an embedded proposition. Ultimately, the correlations between the scopal and the perspectival possibilities of causal clauses show that the perspective parameter (the judge) can be analyzed as a silent argument of the conjunction that must be bound within its clause.

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