University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics

Article Title

Romanian Evidentials


This paper contains an investigation of some aspects of Romanian modality constructed with auxiliaries. These forms can be combined either with the infinitive, or with overt (imperfective /perfective) aspectual morphology. In the latter case, they might give rise to interpretations which have been classified in Romanian grammars as presumptive (broadly described as referring to probability, uncertainty, guess). In these contexts, all the auxiliaries are traditionally taken to be synonymous. This paper demonstrates that this conclusion cannot hold; a more in-depth examination shows instead that each modal auxiliary encodes a specific type of indirect source of information the proposition is based upon. In other words, Romanian modal auxiliaries have an individual indirect evidential component.

The application of canonical tests used in the literature supports a modal analysis of Romanian evidentials, as opposed to an alternative illocutionary operator account. Another characteristic of modal auxiliaries that is touched upon is the nature of the ambiguity relations with their perfective forms. It is assumed, following recent accounts by Condoravdi (2001), Ippolito (2002, et subseq.), Copley (2002), among others, that the ways in which temporal/aspectual heads interact with modal projections are responsible for various interpretations. For example, when temporal/aspectual heads are above the modal, counterfactual readings arise. When they are below the modal, only evidential interpretations are possible.