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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.
Chapter 8 is devoted to generalizations and conclusions based on the data and analyses discussed in the previous chapters. A (non-exhaustive) list of relations that hold between various cases and semantic concepts is provided. It is proposed that case can be related to at least three broad semantic areas: tense and aspect; individuation; thematic roles and related concepts. Each of these types is illustrated. Further, it is pointed out that the relation between case and meaning is often indirect; moreover, defining the nature of this relation is, in many instances, subject to theory-internal considerations. The meaning component intuitively associated with a particular case can be contributed by four types of source: a lexical head (e.g. V), a functional head (e.g. Appl(icative)), the object DP and the case-marker. Only in the last instance is the relation between case and meaning direct.
The phenomenon of case has long been a central topic of study in linguistics. While the majority of the literature so far has been on the syntax of case, semantics also has a crucial role to play in how case operates. This book investigates the relationship between semantics and case-marking in the languages of the world, exploring a range of phenomena in which case-assignment is affected by (or affects) meaning. By bringing together data from a wide range of languages, representing different language families, a cross-linguistic picture emerges of the correlation between case and meaning. Different approaches to the phenomena are considered, including both syntactic and semantic analyses, and the question is raised as to whether case can be treated as meaningful, ultimately helping us shed light on the broader connections between grammar and meaning and, moreover, grammar and the human cognition.
This Journal published in 2016 an article by Jerome Moran on ‘Tense, Time and Aspect in the Greek Verb’ (Moran, 2016). It rightly pointed to the unsatisfactory nature of the treatment of the concept of ‘verbal aspect’ in available grammars and language courses, but did not sufficiently, I think, throw light on the issue for practising teachers and their students, nor did it satisfactorily clarify the intellectual issue posed. And yet this concept, which is not difficult to understand, is all-embracing and lies at the heart of the meaning of verbs in the classical language so that it is important to understand the distinctions it provides within the scope of the Greek verb.
We examine the constellation of factors – lexical, aspectual, temporal and conversational – that give rise to evidential implications from assertions. We target intensional and inferential meanings associated with a certain class of present-tense state sentences: those containing a temporal adverb headed by by, e.g. The American traveling public is pretty mature by now. We ask why present-tense sentences containing by temporal adverbs (BTAs) are improved by, and sometimes appear to require, an epistemic modal, e.g. They ??(must) live in a mansion by now. Key to our analysis is the idea that BTA sentences require the onset of a resultant state described by the complement of by now to overlap some unspecified time that precedes the time described by the adverb. The indefiniteness of the unspecified time described by BTAs leads interpreters to pragmatically construe present-tense BTA reports as conjectures, guesses or suppositions. We show how our analysis can be extended to incorporate the contribution of epistemic modals. Adopting insights from von Fintel & Gillies (2010) and Mandelkern (2016), we hypothesize the manner in which the BTA change schema is instantiated in intensional contexts and discuss the relationship between intensional and evidential contexts. We see the merging of aspectual and epistemic features in BTA sentences, and in particular present-tense sentences, as the result of a semantic reconciliation procedure: the use of an epistemic modal in a BTA predication evokes an observation or act of reasoning, prior to speech time, which permits the speaker to make her assertion, and this inference trigger is identified with the ‘onset event’ in the BTA schema.
In this paper we demonstrate on the basis of diachronic and synchronic data from a variety of languages that progressives are particularly liable to be used for the expression of extravagance. We define extravagant language use as a signaling mechanism that consists in the exploitation of an unconventional construction in a given context as a way for speakers to indicate that there is something non-canonical about the situation that they are reporting. Novel constructions naturally lend themselves to such extravagant exploitation, since they are by definition to a certain extent unconventional. This is why, as we will demonstrate, the English, Dutch and French progressives were notably often recruited in extravagant contexts at the onset of their development. However, our synchronic data reveal that Present-day English, Dutch and French progressives continue to be used for extravagant purposes, which suggests that there is something inherent about progressive aspect that makes it liable to such expressive usage. This is confirmed by data from other, typologically diverse languages. We offer a cognitive-semantic analysis in terms of epistemic contingency in order to account for this intrinsic association of progressive aspect and extravagance across languages. Our analysis thus reveals that extravagance is not a transient property of emerging progressives, but that, instead, the semantics of these constructions makes them particularly liable to be recruited for extravagant purposes. It also demonstrates that in order to analyze the range of uses of progressive constructions in a unified fashion, we need to look beyond the temporal import of these constructions.
Previous studies on the acquisition of semantics in the aspectual domain have suggested that a difficult case for achieving a targetlike representation in a second language arises when learners need to preempt a first language (L1) option (Gabriele, 2009). This study investigates this issue by focusing on a learning scenario where predicate-level variability exists in the L1 input. We investigate whether Japanese learners of English can learn to invalidate event cancellation readings (Tsujimura, 2003) in English and how such knowledge develops with increasing English proficiency. We address these questions by examining how Japanese learners of English interpret accomplishment predicates that allow an event cancellation reading in Japanese but not in English. A truth-value judgment task was administered to 60 beginner, 96 intermediate, and 40 advanced Japanese learners of English as well as 20 L1 English and 20 L1 Japanese speakers. Our results showed that Japanese learners of English progressed toward a targetlike representation of aspectual entailment. We argue that such progress follows two parallel routes: a grammatical route rooted in the learners’ growing awareness of the English determiner and number morphology combined with a statistical route rooted in the learners’ inferences based on missing data.
Chapter 8 examines the syntax–semantics interface in Korean. In this chapter, we focus on negation, topic/focus marking, tense/aspect/modality (TAM), pronouns and anaphora, and ellipsis. We discuss lexical, morphological, and syntactic negation. We illustrate differences in the semantic scope of pre- and postverbal negation. We discuss the syntax and interpretation of negative polarity items (NPIs). We investigate topic and focus marking, examining prosodic, morphological, and syntactic devices for marking information structure. In the section on TAM, we demonstrate properties and features of tense and aspect marking and examine the relation between modality and evidentiality. Korean distinguishes past, present, and future tense, with the latter arguably a modal. We introduce two major types of aspect which are sometimes construed as a portmanteau expression. For mood, we introduce indicative, conjectural, and retrospective patterns, the latter sometimes argued to be an evidential. We then turn to the syntax and semantics of nominal reference, surveying personal and deictic as well as anaphoric pronouns. Finally, we discuss ellipsis and zero anaphora patterns.
Although many researchers appeal to performance limitations to account for children’s non-adult-like use of language, few studies have explicitly linked specific cognitive abilities to specific dimensions of language. This study investigated a well-studied underextension in children’s language involving linguistic aspect and tested participants in an aspectual comprehension task as well as a series of assessments evaluating neurocognitive and linguistic skills. Adults (N = 32) and 5-year-old children (N = 32) participated. The results for the children replicated the classic pattern of underextension, with children showing an uneven pattern of success even though all items were equally grammatical. In addition, children’s skill with items that involved overriding lexical information in favor of morphological information was predicted by their performance on an inhibitory control task while children’s skill with items that involved integrating contextual world knowledge was predicted by their performance on a receptive vocabulary task. These results demonstrate how specific dimensions of linguistic processing are supported differentially and sensibly by specific dimensions of cognition.
This chapter discusses the remaining four dimensions, which are less easily subsumed under a logic of either modality or conventions of a narrowly defined register. For each of these, explanations are provided that have to do with drifts in discourse conventions, cultural differences, and grammatical peculiarities across varieties of English.
In this article we explore the range of aspectual and quantificational readings that are available to two kinds of deverbal nominalizations in English, conversion nouns and -ing nominals. Using data gathered from the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) and the British National Corpus (BNC), we examine the range of readings available for the conversion and -ing forms of 106 English verbs in context. We distinguish eventive versus referential readings, looking at instances of both count and mass quantification for the two kinds of nominalizations. Within the eventive readings we also distinguish bounded versus unbounded aspectual readings, and within bounded readings two types that we call ‘completive’ and ‘package’. We argue that the quantificational properties and aspectual intepretation of both conversion and -ing nominalizations are not rigidly or even loosely determined by the form of the nominalization, but that the lexical aspect of the base verb (state, activity, accomplishment, achievement, semelfactive) plays some role in circumscribing aspectual readings. We argue that the strongest role in determining quantificational and aspectual readings is played by factors arising from the context in which conversion forms and -ing nominalizations are deployed. The aspectual interpretation of conversion and -ing nominalizations can be influenced by the presence of temporal and quantificational modifiers, by surrounding tenses, as well as by encyclopedic knowledge. We conclude with a consideration of the theoretical implications of our findings.