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The use of the past-tense subjunctive of be indicates epistemic distance: “[

The use of the past-tense subjunctive of be indicates epistemic distance: “[

A has arrived at the conclusion that B’s ‘business’, which obviously does not include A, is carrying on with her secret relationship with C

53 For a mental space analysis of tense and mood see Fauconnier 1997, pp. 72-98 . (His analysis of the perfect aspect is based on the work of J. Dinsmore.) Content can not be added to the Event space because it is not in focuspare: His former girlfriends turned into lesbians a few years ago. *His former girlfriends have turned into lesbians a few years ago.

In the last paragraph (sentence 20), when the second ‘scale peak’ occurs, “as if” sets up a Possibility space within the matrix. ] she looks at me each morning as if I were interrupting her life.”. The implied meaning is “she looks at me as if I were interrupting her life – but I don’t see it that way myself.”

The word ‘interrupt’ is an entrenched metaphor from the speech-act domain54 (where a person can interrupt another person’s speech) and in this context (with this particular target55) we take it to mean that A somehow prevents B from fulfilling her ambition (according to B, according to A’s hypothesis). The speaker role is mapped onto ‘life’; the act of interrupting is mapped onto A’s preventive act; and the interrupting second speaker is mapped onto A. ‘Life’ is understood in a qualitative sense: B is annoyed with A’s presence which is seen as a hindrance to B’s happiness. On the informed reading, the meaning of “life” is reinterpreted: we realize that A actually intends to interrupt B’s life, in a very literal sense. Continue reading “The use of the past-tense subjunctive of be indicates epistemic distance: “[“

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