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date: 20 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The English present tense does not exhibit a uniform behavior in all embedded environments. Its ability to receive a simultaneous reading in complement clauses of attitude verbs depends on the matrix tense. Likewise, in relative clauses, the present tense is capable of receiving a simultaneous reading if the matrix tense is future, but not if it is past. However, there are languages (for example, Japanese and Hebrew) where the present tense receives (or can receive) a simultaneous reading in complement clauses of attitude verbs, even when the matrix tense is past. There are also languages (such as Japanese, but not Hebrew) where the present tense can receive a simultaneous reading in relative clauses, even when the matrix tense is past. This article explores the nature of these language-internal and cross-linguistic variations, and the success (or lack thereof) of two particular theories in accounting for it: the theory we refer to as the ULC-based theory (ULC stands for Upper Limit Constraint) and the copy-based theory. It then proposes a theory that borrows insights from both of the aforementioned theories to account for embedded tenses.

Keywords: embedded tenses, complement clauses, attitude verbs, relative clauses, matrix tense, present tense, cross-linguistic variations, ULC-based theory, copy-based theory

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