Modal existential wh-constructions as affordance descriptions

  • Radek Šimík


This paper proposes a new semantic analysis of modal existential wh-constructions (MECs). The core idea is that MECs denote a special type of “eventive property” of entities, particularly the set of events that an entity affords/makes possible. Accordingly, MECs are called affordance descriptions. The analysis predicts the ambivalent nature of MECs, which behave as verbal projections syntactically but have nominal distribution and meaning. Further, a biconditional relation between an affordance of an entity and the entity’s availability is postulated and is claimed to have grammatical consequences, accounting for the limited distribution of MECs under predicates that express availability in one way or another. The limited modality expressed by MECs (only circumstantial possibility) is also argued to fall out from the proposal: the reason is that the notion of affordance implies possibility but not necessity. Finally, a minimal situation account of the modal behavior is proposed, under which the affordance is mapped to an existential quantifier over situations, using the availability predication as its restrictor and the affordance description (the MEC) as its nucleus.
How to Cite
Šimík, R. (1). Modal existential wh-constructions as affordance descriptions. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 17, 563-580. Retrieved from