Ashwini Deo, as part of prospective graduate student visit.
The Spanish copulas ser and estar have distributional and interpretational patterns that have resisted an adequate analysis for a long time. This paper provides a new analysis that treats the two copulas as being presuppositional variants that are differentially sensitive to properties of the circumstances at which the truth of the copular sentence is evaluated. We argue thatestar signals that the prejacent is boundedly true at the evaluation circumstance. The prejacent’s bounded truth at a circumstance i at a given context use c depends on the existence of no-weaker alternative circumstances i′ accessible at c where the prejacent is false and on i being a minimal verifying circumstance at c. The analysis relies crucially on an explication of a strength ordering over alternative circumstances of evaluation. The assumption of this presuppositional component accounts for the distinct flavors of interpretation associated with estar with a range of predicates. ser is shown to be associated with its own inferences that derive from its status as the presuppositionally weaker, neutral member of the pair.