This book brings together novel work on the semantics and pragmatics of certain indefinite expressions that also convey modality.
These epistemic indefinites are determiners or pronouns that signal ignorance on the part of the speaker, such as German irgendein and Spanish algun: the sentence Maria se caso con algun medico ('Maria married some doctor or other') both makes an existential statement that there is a doctorthat Maria married and signals the speaker's inability or unwillingness to identify the doctor in question.
Although epistemic indefinites have featured in recent semantic literature, a full understanding of the phenomenon is still lacking: there is currently no agreement on the source of their epistemic component; there is insufficient cross-linguistic data to develop a semantic typology of these items; and the parallelisms and differences between epistemic indefinites and other expressions that convey epistemic modality have not been explored in depth.
In this volume, a team of experts in the fieldoffer novel empirical observations and important theoretical insights on epistemic indefinites and related topics such as modal free relatives, modified numerals, and epistemic modals.
They provide a coherent overview of the issues that shape the subject as well as placing them in the context ofcurrent semantic research, moving towards the development of a semantic typology of epistemic indefinites that explores the place of these expressions within a general typology of modal items.