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LINGUIST List 22.5031

Tue Dec 13 2011

Diss: Syntax/Historical Ling/Typology: DeLazero: 'Aspect in Syntax'

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        1.     Octav DeLazero , Aspect in Syntax

Message 1: Aspect in Syntax
Date: 10-Dec-2011
From: Octav DeLazero <od32cornell.edu>
Subject: Aspect in Syntax
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Institution: Cornell University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2011

Author: Octav Eugen DeLazero

Dissertation Title: Aspect in Syntax

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

Subject Language(s): English (eng)
                            German (deu)
                            Greek, Ancient (grc)
                            Hungarian (hun)
                            Latin (lat)
                            Polish (pol)
                            Russian (rus)
Language Family(ies): Germanic
                            Slavic Subgroup

Dissertation Director:
Michael Weiss
Molly Diesing
Wayles Browne

Dissertation Abstract:

This work explores the syntactic dimension of verbal aspect, starting with
a discussion of the role of argument structure in the definition of aspect.
The proposal includes a theory of argument linking in a Distributed
Morphology framework.

I argue that the same aspectual opposition, revolving around the expression
of transitions between situations by the Perfectives, is manifested in two
kinds of contrast in Slavic: Perfective-Imperfective and
determinate-indeterminate (in verbs of motion). This comparison suggests
that goal-like arguments render a verb inherently Perfective, since the
presence of a goal implies a transition between an event and a situation
post-event, after the goal has been reached. This conclusion is exploited
in a theory of theta-roles and their representation in syntax, with all
arguments introduced by functional heads. Some prefixes associated with
applicative heads also Perfectivize, when they add a path specification -
e.g., the path followed by the action over an incremental Theme until the
complete involvement of the Theme. As individual prefixes are associated
with individual arguments, I propose that they incorporate into the
functional heads introducing arguments, and combine by predicate
modification, inheriting the modifier semantics from their original
syntactic position as free adverbials. I also discuss prefixes which do not
Perfectivize, particularly in comitative applicatives.

The second part treats the syntax of outer aspect and actionality, and the
role of the latter in the derivation of aspectual subtypes. A general
conclusion is that Slavic(-type) aspect is a syntactically diffuse
phenomenon, distributed on functional heads both inside and outside the VP,
and reflecting its gradual appearance and systematization into one
grammatical category. The analyses combine synchronic and diachronic
approaches, comparing facts from Indo-European and Hungarian. I suggest
that historical explanations are sometimes the best ones for synchronic
facts, illustrating this point with cases of structure preservation in
semantic change.

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