Scope and the functions of "be going to"

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pages 58–68
In RRG, the grammatical categories of tense, mood and aspect are characterized as operators with scope over different parts of the layered structure of the clause (LSC). RRG also posits a rigid order of such operators with respect to the predicating element, including the relative ordering: tense/status > deontic modality> aspect. However the English "be going to" construction, which has been characterized as a future tense operator, has variable surface scope. In addition, in some (but not all) utterances, "going to" encodes various meanings in addition to expressing future time reference. In this paper I argue that variation in the scope of "going to" correlates with semantic differences. Specifically, when "going to" is within the scope of one or more operators it functions as a nucleus, rather than a tense operator, and exhibits semantic retention, that is, hearers recover its conceptual semantic content. Conversely, when "going to" has one or more operators within its surface structure scope it functions as a tense operator and semantic retention is impossible. Finally, if there are no other operators either within the scope of "going to" or that have "going to" within their scope, "going to" may function as a tense operator, unless it exhibits semantic retention, in which case it is only analyzable as a nucleus.
Using Role and Reference Grammar, I argue that variation in the scope of "going to" correlates with semantic differences.
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Role and Reference Grammar
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R. Kailuweit, B. Wiemer, E. Staudinger & R. Matasović (eds.) New Applications of Role and Reference Grammar: Diachrony, grammaticalization, Romance languages
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