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Research Article

Subject Obviation as a Semantic Failure: a Preliminary Account

Francesco Costantini    Università degli Studi di Udine, Italia    



Subject obviation in subjunctive clauses has drawn attention in the field of formal linguistics since the early eighties. Despite an abundant literature on the phenomenon, obviation still remains in many respects mysterious. This article explores a different approach to the phenomenon, whereby obviation can be accounted for by resorting to the notion of self-knowledge, as generally conceived in the field of philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. Under the view proposed here, obviation is caused by a clash between the semantic characteristics of the attitude predicate and those of the embedded clause. Particularly, it is suggested that obviation obtains if and only if an embedded clause expresses self-knowledge.

Keywords: Obviation. Self-knowledge. Subjunctive clauses. Linguistics.

Language: en

Submitted: April 12, 2016   Accepted: Aug. 31, 2016   Published: Sept. 30, 2016  

permalink: http://doi.org/10.14277/2499-1562/AnnOc-50-16-5

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