Klecha, Peter. 2011. Optional and obligatory modal subordination. Appeared in Proceedings of Sinn & Bedeutung 15; published draft is available online here. The pdf below is the pre-publication draft.
Keywords. modality, anaphora, modal subordination, dynamic semantics
Abstract. This paper raises the empirical point that modal subordination is not always obligatory, and that moreover, this is a point of lexical variation. Some modals, like will, which I call definite modals, undergo modal subordination obligatorily, and some, like gonna, which I call nondefinite modals, do so optionally.
I propose a dynamic framework in which, following from Frank (1997), information states are possible discourse referents. I also propose that these referents are potentially subject to familiarity presuppositions, whose presence makes a modal definite, and whose absence makes a modal nondefinite.