Further Implications of French Devoir and Falloir for Theories of Control and Modality

  • Lisa A. ReedEmail author
Part of the Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory book series (SNLT, volume 95)


Authier and Reed (2009: 44–45) observe that thematic constraints involving French devoir ‘must’ and falloir ‘to be necessary’ fall out from Chomsky and Lasnik’s (1995) original null Case approach to control. However, Reed (2014: Ch. 6) shows that separate data involving Romance floating quantifiers (Baltin 1995; Sportiche 1988), pronominal clitic placement (Cinque 2001; Cardinaletti and Shlonsky 2004), and the distribution of overt and covert nominals in gerunds pose serious problems for that analysis. This article opens with the novel observation that Authier and Reed’s contrasts are problematic for theories of control ranging from those couched in terms of NP-Movement (e.g. Hornstein 1999) to those postulating a syntactically implicit external argument (e.g. Jackendoff and Culicover 2003) to those formulated in terms of Agree and/or predication (Landau 2004, 2013, 2015). This article then draws on additional data and discussion in Reed (2014, 2016) to show how a Caseless approach to PRO can accommodate these facts, but only if one also recognizes with, e.g. Kamp (1975) and Cinque (1999), and contra, e.g. Kratzer (1981, 1991) and Hacquard (2010, 2011), that the closest French equivalent of must, namely, devoir, is syntactically and semantically ambiguous. This article, therefore, sheds new light on our current understanding of control and modality.


Control devoir falloir Implicit arguments Modality PRO 


  1. Authier, J.-Marc, and Lisa Reed. 2009. French tough-movement revisited. Probus 21 (1): 1–21.Google Scholar
  2. Bach, Emmon. 1979. Control in Montague Grammar. Linguistic Inquiry 10 (4): 515–531.Google Scholar
  3. Baltin, Mark. 1995. Floating quantifiers, PRO, and predication. Linguistic Inquiry 26 (2): 199–248.Google Scholar
  4. Bhatt, Rajesh. 1998. Obligation and possession. MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 32: 21–40.Google Scholar
  5. Bošković, Željko. 1996. Selection and the categorial status of infinitival complements. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 14 (2): 269–304.Google Scholar
  6. Bošković, Željko. 2004. Be careful where you float your quantifiers. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 22 (4): 681–742.Google Scholar
  7. Bowers, John. 2002. Transitivity. Linguistic Inquiry 33 (2):183–224.Google Scholar
  8. Brennan, Virginia. 1993. Root and epistemic modal auxiliary verbs. PhD dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.Google Scholar
  9. Butler, Jonny. 2003. A minimalist treatment of modality. Lingua 113 (10): 967–996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cardinaletti, Anna, and Ur Shlonsky. 2004. Clitic positions and restructuring in Italian. Linguistic Inquiry 35 (4): 519–557.Google Scholar
  11. Carnap, Rudolf. 1957. Meaning and necessity. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  12. Chierchia, Gennaro. 1985. Formal semantics and the grammar of predication. Linguistic Inquiry 16 (3): 417–443.Google Scholar
  13. Chierchia, Gennaro. 1989. Structured meanings, thematic roles and control. In Properties, types and meanings II, ed. Gennaro Chierchia, Barbara Partee, and Raymond Turner, 131–166. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  14. Chomsky, Noam. 1980. On binding. Linguistic Inquiry 11 (1): 1–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chomsky, Noam. 1981. Lectures on government and binding. Dordrecht: Foris.Google Scholar
  16. Chomsky, Noam. 1986. Knowledge of language: Its nature, origin, and use. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  17. Chomsky, Noam, and Howard Lasnik. 1995. The theory of principles and parameters. The minimalist program, ed. Noam Chomsky, 13–127. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  18. Cinque, Guglielmo. 1999. Adverbs and functional heads: A crosslinguistic perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Cinque, Guglielmo. 2001. “Restructuring” and the order of aspectual and root modal heads. In Current studies in Italian syntax: Essays offered to Lorenzo Renzi, ed. Guglielmo Cinque and Giampaolo Salvi, 137–155. Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  20. Dowty, David. 1985. On recent analyses of the semantics of control. Linguistics & Philosophy 8 (3): 291–331.Google Scholar
  21. Dubois, Jean. 1969. Grammaire structurale du français: La phrase et les transformations. Paris: Larousse.Google Scholar
  22. Hackl, Martin. 1998. On the semantics of “ability attributions.” Ms.: MIT.Google Scholar
  23. Hacquard, Valentine. 2010. On the event relativity of modal auxiliaries. Natural Language Semantics 18 (1): 79–114.Google Scholar
  24. Hacquard, Valentine. 2011. Modality. Semantics: An international handbook of natural language meaning, vol. 2, ed. Klaus von Heusinger, Claudia Maienborn, and Paul Portner, 1484–1515. Berlin: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  25. Hintikka, Jaakko. 1962. Knowledge and belief. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Hornstein, Norbert. 1999. Movement and control. Linguistic Inquiry 30 (1): 69–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Huang, C.-T. James. 1999. Chinese passives in comparative perspective. Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies 29: 423–509.Google Scholar
  28. Huot, Hélène. 1974. Le verbe devoir: étude synchronique et diachronique. Paris: Klincksieck.Google Scholar
  29. Jackendoff, Ray, and Peter Culicover. 2003. The semantic basis of control in English. Language 79 (3): 517–556.Google Scholar
  30. Kamp, Hans. 1975. Reference and quantification in tense and model logic. In Pragmatics II, ed. Siegfried Schmidt, 150–197. München: Finck.Google Scholar
  31. Kratzer, Angelika. 1977. What must and can must and can mean. Linguistics & Philosophy 1 (3): 337–355.Google Scholar
  32. Kratzer, Angelika. 1981. The notional category of modality. In Words, worlds, and contexts. New approaches in word semantics, ed. Hans-Jürgen Eikmeyer and Hannes Rieser, 38–74. Berlin: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  33. Kratzer, Angelika. 1991. Modality. In Semantics: An international handbook of contemporary research, ed. Arnim von Stechow and Dieter Wunderlich, 639–650. Berlin: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  34. Kripke, Saul. 1963. Semantical analysis of modal logic I. Normal propositional calculi. Zeitschrift für mathematische Logik und Grundlagen der Mathematik 9 (5–6): 67–96.Google Scholar
  35. Landau, Idan. 2004. The scale of finiteness and the calculus of control. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 22 (4): 811–877.Google Scholar
  36. Landau, Idan. 2013. Control in generative grammar: A research companion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Landau, Idan. 2015. A two-tiered theory of control. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lasnik, Howard, and Robert Fiengo. 1974. Complement object deletion. Linguistic Inquiry 5 (4): 535–571.Google Scholar
  39. Lewis, David. 1968. On the plurality of worlds. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  40. Manzini, Maria Rita. 1983. On control and control theory. Linguistic Inquiry 14 (3): 421–446.Google Scholar
  41. Martin, Roger. 1992. On the feature content and distribution of PRO. PhD dissertation, University of Connecticut, Storrs.Google Scholar
  42. Martin, Roger. 2001. Null Case and the distribution of PRO. Linguistic Inquiry 32 (1): 141–166.Google Scholar
  43. Montague, Richard. 1974. The proper treatment of quantification in ordinary English. In Formal philosophy, ed. Richard Thomason, 247–270. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Perlmutter, David. 1970. The two verbs begin. In Readings in English transformational grammar, ed. Roderick Jacobs and Peter Rosenbaum, 107–277. Waltham, Mass: Ginn and Company.Google Scholar
  45. Picallo, M. Carme. 1990. Modal verbs in Catalan. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 8 (4): 285–312.Google Scholar
  46. Radford, Andrew. 2004. Minimalist syntax: Exploring the structure of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Reed, Lisa. 2011. Get-passives. The Linguistic Review 28 (1): 41–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Reed, Lisa. 2014. Strengthening the PRO hypothesis. Berlin: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  49. Reed, Lisa. 2016. Some notes on devoir, falloir, and the theory of control. In Romance linguistics 2013. Selected papers from the 43rd linguistic symposium on Romance languages (LSRL), ed. Christina Tortora, Marcel den Dikken, Ignacio Montoya, and Teresa O’Neill, 341–360. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing.Google Scholar
  50. Rizzi, Luigi. 1982. Issues in Italian syntax. Dordrecht: Foris Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Ross, John. 1969. Auxiliaries as main verbs. In Studies in philosophical linguistics series I, ed. William Todd, 77–102. Evanston: Great Expectations Press.Google Scholar
  52. Ruwet, Nicolas. 1972. Théorie syntaxique et syntaxe du français. Paris: Editions du Seuil.Google Scholar
  53. Safir, Kenneth. 1985. Syntactic chains. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Sag, Ivan, and Carl Pollard. 1991. An integrated theory of complement control. Language 67 (1): 63–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sportiche, Dominique. 1988. A theory of floating quantifiers and its corollaries for constituent structure. Linguistic Inquiry 19 (3): 425–449.Google Scholar
  56. Williams, Edwin. 1985. PRO and subject of NP. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 3 (3): 297–315.Google Scholar
  57. Wurmbrand, Susi. 1999. Modal verbs must be raising verbs. In Proceedings of WCCFL 18, ed. Sonya Bird, Andrew Carnie, Jason Haugen, and Peter Norquest, 599–612. Somerville: Cascadilla Press.Google Scholar
  58. Zagona, Karen. 2007. On the syntactic features of epistemic and root modals. In Coreference, modality, and focus: Studies on the syntax-semantics interface, ed. Luis Eguren and Olga Fernández-Soriano, 221–236. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing.Google Scholar
  59. Zubizarreta, Maria Luisa. 1983. On the notion ‘adjunct subject’ and a class of raising predicates. MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 5: 195–232.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of French and Francophone StudiesPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations