The syntax and semantics of As-parentheticals

Christopher Potts

Abstract

This paper is a detailed investigation of the syntax and semantics of a single type of cross-linguistically common parenthetical expression, here dubbed As-parentheticals (e.g., Ames, as you know, was a spy). I show that a treatment of such clauses as adverbial modifiers combines with a motivated semantic analysis to account for a wide range of ambiguities concerning negation in particular, but also tense, modal, and adverbial operators. I provide a principled explanation for the impossibility of variable binding into, and extraction from, As-parentheticals, and argue that this construction yields novel support for the view (of Ladusaw 1992 and others) that negative DPs like no one are actually non-negated indefinites licensed by an abstract, clause-level negation. Overall, the analysis shows that parentheticals, in addition to being a rich source of puzzles in their own right, provide a useful probe into clause structure in general.