Studies on Factivity, Complementation, and Propositional Attitudes

Sammanfattning: This dissertation is a collection of seven papers in which a number of questions are investigated regarding verbs that take a sentential complement as their direct object. These verbs are considered from different perspectives, namely from the perspective of the propositional attitude they express, or from the perspective of the syntactic construction they select, or from the point of view of the implications to which they might give rise. Thus, this project led me to investigate different topics in the field of semantics, pragmatics, syntax, language acquisition, and philosophy of language. The first paper is concerned with the double complementation system in Gallipolino, the Salentine dialect spoken in Gallipoli (Lecce). Assuming that there exists a correlation between the cognitive attitude attitudinal verbs express and the type of sentential complement that these verbs select, the Gallipolino system is accounted for by distinguishing between verbs of merely propositional attitude and verbs of desiderative propositional attitude. The second paper investigates potential L1 attrition in bilectal speakers of Gallipolino and standard Italian who have left Gallipoli after puberty and moved to Northern Italy, where standard Italian has become the primary language of the speakers over time. The third paper argues that, given that both know and regret are factive verbs as they both trigger the presupposition that the embedded proposition is true, a fundamental distinction has to be drawn between the factivity related to know and the factivity related to regret. The claim argued for here is that the first is a semantic phenomenon, while the second is a pragmatic phenomenon. The fourth paper presents a critical comment on Weiner’s (2006) attempt to show that conversational implicatures are not always cancellable as proposed by Grice (1989). I argue that what Weiner has shown with his examples is that a conversational implicature cannot be cancelled if the speaker, whose utterance gives rise to the implicature, does not intend to cancel it. The fifth paper is concerned with the semantics of factive verbs and how factivity manifests itself in syntax. Given the distinction between the semantic factivity of know and the pragmatic factivity of regret, as proposed in the third paper, the claim argued for in this paper is that the traditional uniform account of factive islands must be revised. The sixth paper deals with the Italian verb sapere ‘know’ as used in mental state attributions. Following the proposal of Tsohatzidis (2012) for English know, sapere is assumed to be semantically ambiguous between a factive sense and a non-factive sense. Evidence in favour of this hypothesis is provided by applying semantic tests and by considering syntactic behaviour. The seventh paper discusses the protagonist projection hypothesis as originally formulated by Holton (1997) and argues that the hypothesis is not supported given the analysis presented here.