Pseudo Relatives: Big and Direct.

Keir Moulton, Nino Grillo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Proposition-denoting expressions tend to be expressed with ‘larger’ syntactic constituents, housing more functional structure, while expressions that denote events are typically ‘smaller’, often tenseless, phrases. This syntax-semantics mapping is best revealed under perception verbs. Epistemically positive perception reports (Barwise 1981)—so-called indirect perception reports—are expressed by finite CPs (as in the Italian example in (Gianni saw from the tears that Maria was crying, #but thought she was laughing), whereas epistemically neutral perception reports are expressed with infinitives (Gianni saw Maria crying but thought she was laughing). In this short report, we show that Pseudo-Relatives — while finite — give rise to direct perception like infinitives. We provide novel evidence, however, that PRs differ from infinitives in being referential descriptions of situations rather than being existentially quantified (Higginbotham 1983). We then propose, based on independent syntactic evidence, that PRs are headed by a determiner that is responsible for the low type of PRs compared to ‘normal’ finite clauses.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNELS 45
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the Forty-fifth Annual Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society
EditorsThuy Bui, Deniz Özyıldız
Place of PublicationAmherst, MA
PublisherGLSA (Graduate Linguistics Student Association)
ISBN (Electronic)9781517317737
ISBN (Print)1517317738
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • perceptual reports
  • pseudo relatives
  • infinitives
  • semantics
  • syntax

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