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LINGUIST List 17.1568

Mon May 22 2006

Diss: Syntax: MacDonald: 'The Syntax of Inner Aspect'

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        1.    Jonathan MacDonald, The Syntax of Inner Aspect

Message 1: The Syntax of Inner Aspect
Date: 22-May-2006
From: Jonathan MacDonald <macdonald.jongmail.com>
Subject: The Syntax of Inner Aspect

Institution: Stony Brook
Program: Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2006

Author: Jonathan E MacDonald

Dissertation Title: The Syntax of Inner Aspect

Dissertation URL: http://www.linguistics.stonybrook.edu/pub/dissertations.html

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

Subject Language(s): English (eng)
                            Finnish (fin)
                            Russian (rus)

Dissertation Director:
John F. Bailyn
Daniel L. Finer
Richard K. Larson
William McClure

Dissertation Abstract:

The main goal of this dissertation is to explore and provide an account of
the syntactic nature of inner aspect. I conclude that the syntactic nature
of inner aspect consists primarily of a space within the verb phrase within
which elements must be located in order to contribute to the aspectual
interpretation of the predicate; this is the domain of aspectual
interpretation. Technically the domain of aspectual interpretation is
minimally defined as an aspectual projection (AspP)between vP and VP (see
also Travis 1991). When a certain property of an NP Agrees with Asp, the
domain is extended to everything dominated by AspP; this is the syntactic
instantiation of an object-to-event mapping (cf. Krifka 1989, Verkuyl
1972). The result of the presence of this domain is that elements above
AspP (e.g. CAUSE introducing external arguments (Hay, Kennedy & Levin
1999), external arguments themselves (Tenny 1987), and locative PPs) cannot
contribute to the aspectual interpretation of the predicate (cf. Thompson

I also provide a syntactic typology of aspectual predicate types. This
consists of the minimal syntactic machinery necessary to account for an
array of properties systematically associated with statives, activities,
accomplishments, and achievements. Relevant to the determination of this
typology are AspP, as well as syntactically and semantically active
properties of predicates (event features). The presence or absence of AspP
and event features in conjunction with the syntactic relation between the
event features themselves derive the typology.

Furthermore, I claim that a locus of parametric variation in inner aspect
is the AspP projection itself. I argue that English is representative of
languages that possess AspP and Russian is representative of languages that
lack AspP. This claim is motivated by the systematically distinct aspectual
distributions and interpretations of mass nouns and bare plurals.

Finally, a natural consequence of this proposal is that case and aspect are
independent syntactic relations. I conclude that aspect is a relation
between an NP and Asp and assume that accusative case is a relation between
a DP and v (Chomsky 2001). I discuss this consequence for Finnish, often
put forth as a language that exemplifies a direct relation between case and

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