semantics and pragmatics of to-contraction

fdehaan fdehaan at UNM.EDU
Sat Aug 4 05:45:04 UTC 2001

Dan Everett wrote:

>The idea of frequency, social preferences/development, and semantic-form combinations >developing to account for the different contraction possibilities sounds quite plausible, >Spike. HPSG in fact treats some of these as separate words. Moreover, the observation I made >that the deontic sense of 'gotta' sounds ungrammatical without contraction supports the idea >that this is a single word now (as Paul Postal pointed out, it is a 'raising' verb, as in >'There's gotta be a way out of here' uses).

[earlier posting]

> >(6) a. I got PRO to go. (meaning I have an obligation to go  -notice that it
> >isn't even clear this sounds right in the uncontracted form.)
> > b. I gotta go. (Sounds much better than (6a) to me.)
> >(7) a. I get PRO to go. (Indicating privilege.)
> > b. *I getta go. (Sounds terrible to me and may be unattested in the CMU
> >data base.)

[end earlier posting]

Is the "got to" construction meaning "privilege" not a different
construction from "have got to" meaning "obligation"? Maybe the reason
the contracted form sounds weird in the obligation reading because the
verb "have" is required. Notice the innocuous contraction in the example
"There's gotta be a way out of here".

Best wishes,

Ferdinand de Haan
University of New Mexico

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