Schlenker, Philippe. 2010. "Temporal and Modal Anaphora in Sign Language (ASL)". To appear in Natural Language & Linguistic Theory.



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Abstract:   We suggest that data from American Sign Language (ASL) provide overt evidence for Partee’s and Stone’s claim that natural language has anaphoric constructions in the temporal and modal domains    (Partee 1973, Stone 1997). We provide four arguments. (i) Like nominal and locative expressions, temporal and modal constructions can establish loci which can be picked up by later pronouns. (ii) As is the case in the nominal and locative domains, anaphoric constructions can involve singular, dual, trial and plural pronouns. (iii) When the antecedent is existential, we obtain patterns of inference that are characteristic of E-type anaphora. (iv) Finally, temporal and modal anaphora gives rise to patterns of ‘locative shift’ that are found with geographical locations. The last observation suggests that temporal and modal reference is particularly similar to locative reference.