This paper presents new data from English showing that the Present tense morphology inside a relative clause under a matrix Past can have a simultaneous (non-indexical) interpretation, if it occurs in an indefinite object of a fronted VP. These data are theoretically unexpected because Present-under-Past in English has been known to have only an indexical interpretation. It is also shown that DP-fronting and definite objects of fronted VPs do not to allow for a simultaneous interpretation of embedded Present. The author adopts the proposal of (Kusumoto 1999) for Japanese, and argues that the data can be successfully captured, if English relative clauses can optionally be tenseless. In this case the main predicate inside the clause gets the default Present tense morphology and the temporal interpretation of a tenseless relative clause can become dependent on the temporal argument of the matrix verb. This dependence is established when the relative clause is incorporated into the matrix verb. Incorporation is predicted to occur only when the relative clause is inside a DP that is itself interpreted predicatively. A predicative reading is available only for indefinite DPs and only when they are interpreted in situ. The fact that such a reading is available only under VP-fronting is accounted for in terms of the theory of Feature Transmission at PF (Kratzer 1998): whenever a tenseless relative clause is c-commanded by a matrix Past at PF, feature transmission applies and the main predicated of the relative clause surfaces with the Past tense morphology.
"Simultaneous Present-under-Past in Relative Clauses: Evidence from Fronted Verb Phrases,"
University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics: Vol. 25
, Article 16.
Available at: https://repository.upenn.edu/pwpl/vol25/iss1/16