Natural Language Semantics

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 317–357 | Cite as

On the Quantification over Times in Natural Language



The aim of this paper is to seek the optimal way to represent time in natural language. It discusses whether or not natural language employs a temporal system that explicitly quantifies over times at the level where semantic interpretation takes place. I first argue that a single-index theory is not empirically adequate for natural language. I then propose a system in which times are syntactically represented. The system works in such a way that tense morphemes saturate the time argument slots of the predicates they attach to. Consequently it predicts that only the times of the main tensed predicates of clauses are accessible. Empirical evidence is presented showing such a distinction between tenseless and tensed predicates in terms of the accessibility to the times introduced by them.


Empirical Evidence Natural Language Temporal System Semantic Interpretation Time Argument 


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© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishHirosaki Gakuin UniversityHirosaki, AomoriJapan

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