Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Samer Al Khatib

Subject Categories

Semantics and Pragmatics | Typological Linguistics and Linguistic Diversity


Epistemic modality, temporal perspective, temporal orientation, aspect, bounded event constraint, Palestinian Arabic


This thesis aims to contribute to the understanding of temporal interpretation of epistemic modals in Palestinian Arabic (PA), and develop a cross-linguistic analysis. The epistemic necessity modal akeed and the epistemic possibility modal yimkin in PA exhibit similar temporal configurations to English epistemic modals must and might, respectively. We argue for a unified underlying structure to account for the temporal configurations. The linearized combination of the epistemic modal, a silent present tense morpheme and an aspectual head morpheme derive either a present-oriented reading when the aspectual head is empty, or a future-oriented reading in presence of a silent prospective aspect. Further, interaction of these linearized combinations with the underlying viewpoint and lexical aspectual components set the constraints that block particular readings, including the bounded event constraint which blocks a present-oriented reading when the embedded predicate is associated with a perfective component. Thus, epistemic modals do not contribute directly to the temporal references, rather their interaction with the underlying tense and aspectual components is what determines the observed temporal configurations.