Which predicates are factive? An empirical investigation
Judith Tonhauser, Judith Degen
January 2022

Properties of the content of the clausal complement have long been assumed to distinguish factive predicates like 'know' from non-factive ones like 'think' (Kiparsky and Kiparsky 1970, i.a.). There is, however, disagreement about which properties define factive predicates as well as uncertainty about whether the contents of the complement of particular predicates exhibit the properties attributed to the content of the complements of factive predicates. This has led to a lack of consensus about which predicates are factive, a troublesome situation given the central role in linguistic theorizing that the distinction between factive and non-factive predicates has played. This paper reports six experiments designed to investigate two critical properties of the content of the complement of clause-embedding predicates, namely projection and entailment, with the goal of establishing whether these properties identify a class of factive predicates. We find that factive predicates are more heterogeneous than previously assumed and that there is little empirical support for the assumed categorical distinction between factive and non-factive predicates. We discuss implications of our results for formal analyses of presuppositions, one area where factivity has played a central role. We propose that projection is sensitive to more fine-grained meaning distinctions between clause-embedding predicates than factivity.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005360
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: under review
keywords: projection, entailment, presupposition, factivity, clause-embedding predicates, semantics
previous versions: v3 [September 2021]
v2 [December 2020]
v1 [April 2020]
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