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Chapter 10 is about four aspectual adverbs in Q’eqchi’-Maya, which may be loosely glossed as ‘already’ (ak), ‘not yet’ (maaji’), ‘still’ (toj), and ‘no longer’ (ink’a’ chik). It shows the presupposition and assertion structure of these forms in unmarked usage (as sentential operators acting on imperfective predicates), and it argues that they constitute a dual group in the tradition of Loebner (1989) who worked on similar operators in German. This chapter shows the wide range of other functions such forms serve in more marked usage and the ways they may co-occur with each other in the same clause (and thereby ‘double’), leading to constructions like ‘still no longer’ and ‘already not yet’. It offers a semantics that accounts for the multiple functions of all such constructions, highlighting the ways these forms are similar to, and different from, their German and Spanish counterparts.
A passage at 1048b18–35 in chapter six of Metaphysics Book Θ, forging a distinction between activities Aristotle classes as energeia, actuality, and those he calls kinesis, change, has become a favourite subject of discussion by analytic philosophers. This chapter argues that this now celebrated section does not fit into the overall programme of Θ, was not written for Θ, and should not be printed in the place we read it today. It is an isolated fragment of uncertain origin. Although there is good reason to accept that it is authentic Aristotle, its focus is rather different from what it is usually taken to be. Moreover, the distinction is unique in the corpus, and should not be imported into other Aristotelian contexts such as Nicomachean Ethics X or De Anima II.5. The chapter first documents the passage’s anomalous standing within the manuscript tradition. It then argues that Aristotle’s focus here is on verbal aspect, not tense. Next corruptions in the transmitted text are discussed, in light of the hypothesis that the passage was originally imported as a marginal annotation, and a revised text is proposed. Finally, the uniqueness of its philosophical content is established. It is a freak performance.
This paper investigates use of ain't in a corpus of naturalistic speech from forty-two African-American Philadelphians. Use of ain't in past/perfective contexts where it varies with didn't is considered a unique feature of AAE. This use is compared in apparent time to uses of ain't in tense-aspect environments shared with other English varieties. Results show that past/perfective uses of ain't increased during the twentieth century while use in other contexts remained stable, supporting the hypothesis that past/perfective uses resulted from recent change. Generalized linear models for ain't in past/perfective and other contexts show that sociostylistic and linguistic constraints are otherwise the same across contexts. Finally, evidence that a past/perfective use of ain't resulted from either the phonetic reduction of didn't or a shift in meaning from uses of ain't in anterior contexts is examined.
Chapter 6 discusses another issue in efficient computations that language change casts some light on, namely through changes affecting adjuncts. Chomsky (2000, 2001) distinguishes between arguments (subjects and objects) and adverbials in terms of ordered pair-merge and unordered set-merge, respectively. I examine changes of VP and NP adjuncts to specifiers positions of functional categories (ASPP and DP, respectively) and of adjuncts to arguments. These changes show that pair-merge can be avoided. Adjuncts that are in specifier positions of functional categories in their turn reanalyze as heads, driven by labeling pressures. I also address the question of whether subordinate and insubordinate adjunct clauses change in unidirectional ways, and conclude that they don’t.
Stories are typically represented as a set of events and temporal or causal relations among events. In the metro map model of storylines, participants are represented as histories and events as interactions between participant histories. The metro map model calls for a decomposition of events into what each participant does (or what happens to each participant), as well as the interactions among participants. Such a decompositional model of events has been developed in linguistic semantics. Here, we describe this decompositional model of events and how it can be combined with a metro map model of storylines.
This chapter provides an overview of the research on semantics and related interface phenomena in heritage language grammars, focusing on three main questions: (i) whether the phenomena under investigation are subject to incomplete acquisition and/or attrition in heritage language grammars; (ii) whether heritage language grammars are subject to cross-linguistic influence from the dominant language; and (iii) whether interface phenomena are particularly vulnerable in incomplete acquisition and/or attrition. These questions are investigated in four linguistic domains that fall at the interface between syntax and semantics where there has been a substantial body of research with heritage speakers: semantics of the verbal domain, such as tense/aspect and unaccusativity; semantics of the nominal domain, such as definiteness and genericity; semantics of subject and object expression, including binding and case-marking; and quantifier semantics.
Verbs combine with other words to form verb phrases (VP), which are the heads of most clauses. A typical clause is a subject and a head VP. English verbs typically have more variety in their forms than other English words, reflecting grammatical categories like tense, person, and number, though these forms can sometimes look and sound the same. Most also have the secondary forms, namely gerund-participle, past participle, and plain form. A special group of verbs with distinctive properties is the auxiliary verbs, including the modal auxiliaries.
Semantically speaking, situations such as actions and states have perfective and imperfective interpretations, which are expressed in clauses and depend largely on the head verb, along with its tense and aspect. English has two past tenses (preterite & perfect), one present tense, and no future tense. The preterite and present are the primary tenses. There are two aspects, progressive and non-progressive. The modal auxiliaries specialize in expressing modality, which relates to how the possible situations described in a clause can reflect reality. There’s also a special irrealis form of be for expressing counterfactuals.
This article investigates the semantics and pragmatics of the ‘hortative’ aorist (the aorist indicative in questions with τί οὐ ‘why don't …’) and the ‘tragic’ or ‘performative’ aorist (for example ὤμοσα ‘I swear’). Lloyd argued in 1999 that the tragic aorist is a more polite alternative for the corresponding present (ὄμνυμι ‘I swear’). Recently, he has extended this view to the hortative aorist, suggesting that, for example, τί οὐκ ἐκαλέσαμεν; is a polite alternative for τί οὐ καλοῦμεν; Lloyd argues that the politeness value of the aorist derives from its being a past tense, comparing the so-called ‘attitudinal’ past (as in I wanted to ask you something instead of I want to ask you something). The present article, building on work by Colvin, Bary and Nijk, argues instead that the semantic value of the aorist is purely aspectual in these cases: the hortative and tragic aorists serve to construe the designated event as bounded, while the corresponding present forms serve to construe the designated event as unbounded. An extensive discussion of the evidence for the hortative aorist and present is presented, as well as a case study concerning the aspectual behaviour of the verb ὄμνυμι. Moreover, I argue that the proposed semantic account of the hortative and tragic aorists in terms of aspect can be unified with Lloyd's pragmatic account in terms of politeness: the difference in tone between the present and the aorist can be derived from their respective aspectual values, rather than from their temporal values.
In this chapter students are exposed to various kinds of inflectional processes in the languages of the world. We start with a review of the distinction between inflection and derivation. We then look at the inflectional categories of number, person, gender and noun class, case, tense and aspect, voice, mood and modality, evidentiality and mirativity. We look at the sorts of inflection we find in English and consider why English has so little inflection. We then turn to the concepts of the paradigm and of inflectional classes, and look at the sorts of relations that are found in paradigms (syncretism, suppletion, defectiveness, overabundance). Students learn the distinction between inherent and contextual inflection. The chapter ends with a brief ‘how-to’ on the analysis of inflection.
Cross-linguistic generalizations about grammatical contexts favoring syncretism often have an implicational form. This paper shows that this is expected if (i) morphological paradigms are required to be both as small and as unambiguous as possible, (ii) languages may prioritize these requirements differently, and (iii) probability distributions for grammatical features interacting in syncretic patterns are fixed across languages. More specifically, this approach predicts that grammatical contexts that are less probable or more informative about a target grammatical feature $ T $ should favor syncretism of $ T $ cross-linguistically. The paper provides evidence for these predictions based on four detailed case studies involving well-known patterns of contextual syncretism (gender syncretism based on number, gender syncretism based on person, aspect syncretism based on tense, and case syncretism based on animacy).
Grammatical morphology often links small acoustic forms to abstract semantic domains. Deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) children have reduced access to the acoustic signal and frequently have delayed acquisition of grammatical morphology (e.g., Tomblin, Harrison, Ambrose, Walker, Oleson & Moeller, 2015). This study investigated the naturalistic use of aspectual morphology in DHH children to determine if they organize this semantic domain as normal hearing (NH) children have been found to do. Thirty DHH children (M = 6;8) and 29 NH children (M = 5;11) acquiring English participated in a free-play session and their tokens of perfective (simple past) and imperfective (-ing) morphology were coded for the lexical aspect of the predicate they marked. Both groups showed established prototype effects, favoring perfective + telic and imperfective + atelic pairings over perfective + atelic and perfective + atelic ones. Thus, despite reduced access to the acoustic signal, this DHH group was unimpaired for aspectual organization.
This chapter gives an introductory overview of the strategies used in mainland Southeast Asian languages for making verbal predications in the core of clauses. There is an overview of verbal marking including patterns of negation, aspect, and modality. An important feature of the area’s languages is the heavy reliance on serial verb constructions (or multi-verb constructions) for packaging information in clauses and sentences. The chapter surveys various sub-categories of multi-verb construction, including depictive/adverbial constructions and complementation strategies. The chapter closes with a section on valency-changing strategies, including syntactic causatives, reflexives, and reciprocals.
Both influence of language learners’ L1 (“transfer”) and universal mechanisms have been forwarded as important determinants in Second Language Acquisition. This study weighs these claims against each other through a case study on temporal expression, looking at the alternation between the Present Perfect and the Simple Past in L2 English. It analyzes written and spoken data from two learner samples, one with a similar structure in the L1 (German), the other one (Cantonese) lacking such a structure, and compares them against native data, using a multifactorial regression-based approach. The results suggest higher error rates of Cantonese-speaking learners, so that target-like use of past-referring time-reference forms is mediated by L1 influence. By contrast, L1 influence is not traceable when the distributions of usage contexts and error conditioning are compared across the learner samples and with the native baseline data, suggesting a prevalence of universal mechanisms conspiring with linguistic factors.
This study examines the use of discourse-level information to create expectations about reference in real-time processing, testing whether patterns previously observed among native speakers of English generalize to nonnative speakers. Findings from a visual-world eye-tracking experiment show that native (L1; N = 53) but not nonnative (L2; N = 52) listeners’ proactive coreference expectations are modulated by grammatical aspect in transfer-of-possession events. Results from an offline judgment task show these L2 participants did not differ from L1 speakers in their interpretation of aspect marking on transfer-of-possession predicates in English, indicating it is not lack of linguistic knowledge but utilization of this knowledge in real-time processing that distinguishes the groups. English proficiency, although varying substantially within the L2 group, did not modulate L2 listeners’ use of grammatical aspect for reference processing. These findings contribute to the broader endeavor of delineating the role of prediction in human language processing in general, and in the processing of discourse-level information among L2 users in particular.
The acquisition of the aspect is a central area in Second Language Acquisition research, the subject of hundreds of papers and dozens of edited volumes, monographs and special issues. This introduction provides the reader not only with a concise and plain presentation of the main hypotheses advanced in the past, but also with an overview of contemporary research. Stefano Rastelli shows how comparison of behavioural (production-comprehension), processing and statistical data is improving - and partially changing - our understanding of how learners acquire the aspectual distinctions of the target-language.
Previous comprehension studies using Picture Matching Tasks (PMT) have shown that, by the age of four, Spanish-speaking children have acquired the semantics of estar being able to calculate the implicature that a property introduced with estar does not hold independent of time as well as displaying some ability to integrate discourse information about properties that change in the course of a story. This study extends that line of research to children under the age of four. Thirty-eight monolingual Spanish-speaking children were tested in two PMTs. The results show that at age three children differ from older children in their interpretation of the copulas suggesting that the distinction between ser and estar with adjectives emerges between the ages of three and four.
The collection of papers presented in this special issue addresses the non-temporal import of aspectual constructions, in conventional and less conventional contexts and expression modes. In this introduction, we outline the notions of lexical and grammatical aspect, and how they are traditionally analyzed in temporal accounts, which focus on situations’ temporal constituency, duration, and limitation in time. This serves to clarify relevant notions for those readers who are less familiar with the domain (admittedly riddled with terminological confusion) and thus explicate some of the underlying tenets of existing (temporal) accounts, which the papers in this special issue call into question. This questioning, alongside insights coming from the discussion of various non-canonical constructions/uses in different languages and from different theoretical perspectives, promises an alternative approach to aspect, which goes beyond time.
This chapter provides an overview of the morphosyntactic categories associated with the verb in Germanic and the various inflectional and periphrastic exponents of those categories, with a particular focus on inflectional classes. Characteristics common to most or all of the modern languages are emphasized, but important features of individual languages and branches are also described.
Chapter 6 is dedicated to the non-canonical genitive case-marking on objects in Balto-Slavic languages, concentrating primarily on Russian facts. It deals with the genitive/accusative alternation on direct objects and, to a lesser degree, the genitive/nominative alternation on subjects. First, Genitive of Negation and Intensional Genitive are discussed. The two phenomena, which involve genitive case-assignment to the object of a negated or intensional verb, are unified under the term Irrealis Genitive. The chapter considers those properties that affect the choice of case, including definiteness, scope, number, abstractness, and a range of syntactic and semantic analyses that have been proposed to account for the case alternations. Second, we take a look at Partitive Genitive. Here, the genitive object is interpreted quantificationally, indicating an indeterminate amount of the matter denoted by the noun. Characteristics of the phenomenon, such as homogeneity of the object and perfectivity of the verb, are listed, and two accounts are considered: one positing that the non-canonical genitive is assigned by a phonologically empty quantifier and the other treating genitive objects as nominal measure predicates. The chapter also discusses the relation between non-canonical genitive case and DOM.
Chapter 4 is devoted to the intricate relation between case-marking and aspect. The first section deals with the partitive/accusative alternation on direct objects in Finnic languages. Typically, partitive objects correlate with a bounded reading of the VP, and accusative objects with an unbounded one. But this analysis is challenged by a group of Finnish stative predicates which require accusative complements, such as omistaa ‘own’ and sisältää ‘contain’. The chapter introduces the analyses that have been proposed to account for this fact. Section 4.2 turns to the topic of accusative adjuncts. Cross-linguistically, accusative case tends to be assigned to adjuncts that function as event delimiters, e.g. by measuring out an event along a time or path scale. It is shown that in several languages, event-delimiting adjuncts undergo the same alternations as direct objects, and evidence is provided that they receive structural accusative case. Both syntactic and semantic analyses of accusative objects and adjuncts are discussed. Finally, Section 4.3 considers accusative case-assignment to complements of goal prepositions in German, Russian and Ancient Greek, asking whether this phenomenon is related to the aspectual function of accusative case.