A cross-linguistic account of implicative verbs

31 May 2024
Conference Room

A cross-linguistic account of implicative verbs

Implicative verbs is a category of presupposition triggers that entail the truth of their complement while carrying presuppositions regarding conditions on the context of utterance. While this has been mostly studied in English, there is insufficient work on such inferences in other languages. Moreover, there is no consensus on the implicative behaviour of verbs like remember and manage even in English (Karttunen 1971; Baglini & Francez, 2016). In this study, we will examine implicative verbs and their inferential profile in Tamil, English, and Swedish, starting with the verbs remember, manage, forget and fail as case studies to determine whether their lexical semantics generate parallel inferences and contextual constraints (cf. Levinson & Annamalai, 1992). For example, we have observed that affirmative assertions involving remember in English generally commit the speaker to the truth of the complement (as in (1)), whereas in Tamil (2) this is not the case, there is no implication of the truth of complement. On the other hand, (1) also presupposes that the subject of the main clause was under some obligation or constraint to lock the door which also holds in Tamil:

  1. She remembered to lock the door
  2. Aval-ukku   kadhav-ai     poot-a      nyabagam-irundha-dhu
    she-DAT     door-ACC   lock-INF   memory-have-3.SG.PST.N
    She remembered to lock the door

Additionally, as shown by de Marneffe et al (2019) among others, the processing of such verbs and the commitments they engender are highly dependent on the conversational context. For this reason, such dependencies might vary cross-linguistically. All these considerations indicate that an appropriate account of the processing conditions of such verbs requires both a fine-grained account of their conceptual structure and a conversational model. We will present such an analysis within the framework of DS-TTR (Gregoromichelaki, 2018) which provides the appropriate contextualisation of lexicogrammatical constraints within a dialogue processing model.



Baglini, R., & Francez, I. (2016). The implications of managing. Journal of Semantics, 33(3), 541- 560.

De Marneffe, M. C., Simons, M., & Tonhauser, J. (2019, July). The commitmentbank: Investigating projection in naturally occurring discourse. In proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung(Vol. 23, No. 2, pp. 107-124).

Gregoromichelaki, E., (2018). Quotation in Dialogue. In Saka, P. and Johnson, M. (eds.) The Pragmatics of Quotation. Springer.

Karttunen, L. (1971, December). The logic of English predicate complement constructions. In Feasibility Study on Fully Automatic High Quality Translation (pp. 119-155).

Levinson, S. C., & Annamalai, E. (1992). Why presuppositions aren’t conventional. In Language and text: Studies in honour of Ashok R. Kelkar (pp. 227-242). Kalinga Publications.