Factors licensing embedded present tense in speech reports

  • Corien Bary
  • Daniel Altshuler
  • Kristen Syrett
  • Peter De Swart

Abstract

According to Ogihara (1995), the usage of the embedded present in a speech report such as John said that Mary is in the room is restricted by the cause of John’s belief (the state that made John think that Mary is in the room): the present tense can be used only if this cause still holds at the time that John said that Mary is in the room is uttered. This paper presents experimental evidence demonstrating that this is only one of the factors that licenses a felicitous usage of the embedded present tense. In particular, we show that the cause of belief still holding is not a necessary condition, and identify two additional, sufficient (but not necessary) factors: in cases of false belief, who is aware of the falsity of the belief and duration of the reported state. While these factors are independent, they collectively support the idea that the present tense encodes ‘current relevance’, even in embedded contexts (e.g. Costa 1972; McGilvray 1974). This gives rise to the question of how we can derive ‘current relevance’ and, in particular, whether previous analyses of the embedded present tense are adequately equipped to do so.
Published
2019-05-15
How to Cite
Bary, C., Altshuler, D., Syrett, K., & De Swart, P. (2019). Factors licensing embedded present tense in speech reports. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 22(1), 127-142. Retrieved from https://ojs.ub.uni-konstanz.de/sub/index.php/sub/article/view/82