|Title:||A Semantic and Pragmatic Model of Lexical and Grammatical Aspect||Add Dissertation|
|Author:||Mari Olsen||Update Dissertation|
|Institution:||Northwestern University, Department of Linguistics|
|Linguistic Subfield(s):||Pragmatics; Semantics;|
|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.