Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login

New from Cambridge University Press!


On the Offensive

By Karen Stollznow

On the Offensive " This book sheds light on the derogatory phrases, insults, slurs, stereotypes, tropes and more that make up linguistic discrimination. Each chapter addresses a different area of prejudice: race and ethnicity; gender identity; sexuality; religion; health and disability; physical appearance; and age."

E-mail this page

We Have a New Site!

With the help of your donations we have been making good progress on designing and launching our new website! Check it out at!
***We are still in our beta stages for the new site--if you have any feedback, be sure to let us know at***

Dissertation Information

Title: The Semantics and Acquisition of Time in Language Add Dissertation
Author: Laura Wagner Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Pennsylvania, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 1998
Linguistic Subfield(s): Psycholinguistics; Semantics;
Director(s): Lila Gleitman
Robin Clark

Abstract: This dissertation is about the structure of temporal semantics and children's acquisition of temporal language. It argues for the importance of investigating semantics both at the abstract level of linguistic structures and at the concrete level of the time-course of acquisition, as these two levels provide natural constraints for each other. With respect to semantics, it provides a computationally inspired analysis of tense, grammatical aspect and lexical aspect that uses finite state automata to dynamically calculate the progress of an event over a time interval. It is shown that the analysis can account for many well-known temporal phenomena, such as the different entailments of telic and atelic predicates in the imperfective aspect (the imperfective paradox), and the various unified and serial interpretations of sentences involving a cardinally quantified phrase, such as 'three Ringlings visited Florida. With respect to children's acquisition of temporal language, the dissertation investigates the Aspect First hypothesis which states that children initially use tense and grammatical aspect morphology to mark the lexical aspect property of telicity. Two forced-choice comprehension experiments were conducted with children aged 2.5 to 5 years old to test childrens understanding of tense and grammatical aspect morphology; in a control condition, open class cues were used to test children's conceptual competence with tense and grammatical aspect information independently of their competence with the relevant morphology (e.g., 'in the middle of' and 'in a few seconds' were the open class cues for imperfective aspect and future tense, respectively). Results showed that even the youngest children understood the concepts underlying tense and grammatical aspect as measured by their performance with the open class cues but they did not demonstrate adult competence with the closed class morphology for grammatical aspect and did so only marginally for tense. Comprehension of tense morphology preceded that of grammatical aspect morphology and in particular, children showed an early facility with markers of the future tense.