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LINGUIST List 18.1371

Mon May 07 2007

Diss: Semantics/Syntax: Roby: 'Aspect and the Categorization of Sta...'

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        1.    David Roby, Aspect and the Categorization of States: The case of ser and estar in Spanish

Message 1: Aspect and the Categorization of States: The case of ser and estar in Spanish
Date: 04-May-2007
From: David Roby <robydavidyahoo.com>
Subject: Aspect and the Categorization of States: The case of ser and estar in Spanish

Institution: University of Texas at Austin
Program: Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: David Brian Roby

Dissertation Title: Aspect and the Categorization of States: The case of ser and estar in Spanish

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics

Subject Language(s): Spanish (spa)

Dissertation Director:
Marta E. Luján

Dissertation Abstract:

In this work, the primary goal will be to construct the most descriptively
and explanatorily adequate analysis possible to account for the
complementary distribution of the Spanish copula verbs ser and estar. Over
the past several decades, numerous theoretical accounts have been put forth
in an attempt to accomplish this goal. Though such accounts accurately
predict most types of stative sentences with the two copulas, they often
fall short of predicting a significant number of them that are used in
everyday speech. The first chapters of this dissertation will be devoted to
reviewing a number of existing approaches that have been taken to account
for the uses of ser and estar by testing their theoretical viability and
descriptive adequacy. Among these are traditional conventions such as the
inherent qualities vs. current condition distinction and the analysis of
estar as an indicator of change. Those of a more recent theoretical
framework, which will receive the most attention, include the application
of Kratzer's (1995) individual-level vs. stage-level distinction to stative
predicates and Maienborn's (2005) discourse-based interpretation of Spanish
copulative predication. Schmitt's (2005) compositionally-based analysis of
Portuguese ser and estar, which treats only estar as an aspectual copula,
will be of special interest.

After testing each of these analyses, it will be shown that the least
costly and most accurate course to take for analyzing ser and estar is to
treat both verbs as aspectual morphemes along the lines of Luján (1981). As
aspectual copulas, ser and estar denote the aspectual distinction
[±Perfective]. In my proposed analysis, I will argue that aspect applies to
both events and states, but does so internally and externally respectively.
By adapting Verkuyl's (2004) feature algebra to states, I will posit that
aspect for stative predication is compositionally calculated, and the
individual aspectual values for ser and estar remain constant in
co-composition. In light of its descriptive adequacy for Spanish stative
sentences and universality in natural language, it will also be shown that
the [±Perfective] aspectual distinction is very strong in terms of
explanatory adequacy as well.

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