The semantics and pragmatics of the subjunctive in modern Greek : a relevance-theoretic approach
The aim of this thesis is to propose a semantic analysis of the subjunctive mood in Modem Greek and to show how the various interpretations subjunctive clauses may have can be accounted for in terms of independently motivated communicative principles. My analysis is based on relevance-theoretic assumptions about semantics and pragmatics (Sperber and Wilson 1986, Wilson and Sperber 1988a, 1993). In chapter 1 some of the existing accounts of the subjunctive are considered and found inadequate. A new semantic account, based on the relevance-theoretic approach to semantics, is put forward and discussed, with special reference to the subjunctive in Modern Greek. It is argued that the subjunctive encodes procedural meaning about propositional attitude, which is non-truth- conditional. In particular, it constrains the interpretation of an utterance by indicating that the proposition expressed is entertained as a description of a state of affairs in a possible world. In chapters 2 and 3 the issue addressed is how we can account for the various interpretations of subjunctive clauses. Imperative-like subjunctive clauses, and subjunctive clauses expressing wishes, potentiality and possibility are discussed in chapter 2; expressive, narrative and interrogative subjunctive clauses are dealt with in chapter 3. It is shown that the way subjunctive clauses are interpreted in a particular context is a function of their semantically encoded meaning and considerations of optimal relevance. Chapter 4 prepares the ground for chapter 5. It is argued that definite and indefinite descriptions are not semantically ambiguous; their various interpretations are accounted for by a univocal semantics interacting with context and relevance considerations, i.e. pragmatically. In chapter 5 the interpretation of Modern Greek restrictive relatives in the indicative and subjunctive is discussed. It is shown that the restrictions on the possible interpretations of the description which the relative clause accompanies fall out from the semantic contrast between the indicative and the subjunctive as defined in chapter 1.