On the demonstrative nature of finite complementizers
Camil Staps, Johan Rooryck
August 2022

It is well-known that proximal 'this' can be used to mark direct speech ('Sue said (this/*that): “It is raining”') while distal 'that' is required to mark indirect speech ('Sue said (*this/that) it is raining'). To our knowledge, there is no satisfactory account of this observation. We propose that the proximal/distal feature is recycled in the sentential domain to mark both actual distance (how similar the speech report is to the original utterance) and Addressee involvement (to what extent, and how, the Addressee is involved with the speech report). Addressee involvement in particular will be shown to account for a wider range of phenomena found in the distribution of overt and covert complementizers in a variety of European languages. This indicates that such complementizers are not neutral but carry an interpretive value. We then show that these results can be viewed as a generalisation of Peeters et al.’s (2021) theory of demonstrative reference. In this way, we can account for interpretive recycling of the proximal/distal distinction in both the nominal and the clausal domain.
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Reference: lingbuzz/006751
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keywords: proximal/distal, presupposition, common ground, evidentiality, optional 'that', exclamative 'that', main clause 'que'/'că', semantics, syntax
previous versions: v1 [August 2022]
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