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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."


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Dissertation Information


Title: A Semantic and Pragmatic Model of Lexical and Grammatical Aspect Add Dissertation
Author: Mari Olsen Update Dissertation
Homepage: http://umiacs.umd.edu/~molsen
Institution: Northwestern University, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 1994
Linguistic Subfield(s): Pragmatics; Semantics;
Subject Language(s): English
Greek, Ancient
Director(s): Beth Levin

Abstract: This work studies two related phenomena in human language: the ability of verbs and other lexical items to describe how a situation (event or state) develops or holds in time (lexical aspect) and the view some verbal auxiliaries and affixes present of the development or result of situations at a given time (grammatical aspect). Through this investigation I reveal a formal situation structure represented by aspectual phenomena, a structure to which other linguistic elements refer, particularly tense.

I examine data in a variety of languages from the literature, and provide detailed analyses of English and Koine Greek. I take particular care to distinguish between aspect semantics and cancellable pragmatic implicatures associated with aspect forms. The semantic-pragmatic distinction provides a tool for determining what properties need to be accounted for in the semantic representation and what may be adduced as evidence for these properties. In particular, I show that oppositions generally assumed to be semantically equipollent (+/-) are semantically privative (+/unmarked), with unmarked forms interpreted in accordance with pragmatic principles.

Lexical aspect semantics is represented by the privative features [+telic], [+dynamic], and [+durative]. These features define the Event Time (ET) as a situation structure consisting of a nucleus and a coda. Grammatical aspect oppositions, also represented privatively, crucially interact with this structure: [+imperfective] views situations intersecting a Reference Time (RT) at the nucleus, and [+perfective] views them at the coda. The conception of grammatical aspect as a view of the ET-RT intersection allows the representation of tense to be limited to a relation between a RT and the deictic center (C). Complex temporal phenomena--'perfect' and 'extended' tenses--are shown to be interactions between grammatical aspect and tense. The privative analysis allows aspect semantics to be built up monotonically--from the lexical aspect ET features, the grammatical aspect view of the ET, and tense. The semantics restricts pragmatic interpretation in principled ways, based on marked and marked features.

Chapter 1 introduces theoretical issues and assumptions. Chapters 2-4 outline the semantic structure of lexical aspect, grammatical aspect, and tense, respectively. Chapters 5-6 apply the analysis to the aspect and tense systems of English and New Testament Koine Greek.