Grammaticalizing Aspect and Affectedness

C. L. Tenny, 1987

for $19.95 x

This thesis is an investigation of the interaction of aspect and syntax.  More particularly, the syntactic repercussions of the aspectual property of delimitedness are examined.  Delimitedness – the temporal boundedness of an event – is shown to a have an effect on a wide range of syntactic phenomena, including resultative secondary predicates, verb-particle contructions, and certain case phenomena.  Affectedness is also shown to depend on delimitedness.  The interaction between affectedness and syntax is proposed to take place in the Case module of the grammar.

An analysis of the property of affectedness in aspectual terms leads to a theory in which the direct argument of a verb ‘measures out’ the event described by the verb over time, as if on a scale.  Affected arguments are direct arguments that delimit the event on that scale.  Non-affected direct arguments also ‘measure out’ the event, though they do not delimit it.

This aspectual property of direct arguments is the first of a set of aspectual principles of argument structure.  Three additional principles are proposed: an event may be delimited only by its internal arguments – arguments within the verb phrase at deep structure.  Indirect arguments may delimit the event parasitically through the direct argument, while external arguments may not delimit the event at all.  Secondly, there may be only one ‘delimiting’ to a verb phrase.  And finally, secondary objects are always delimiting elements.

Two specifically syntactic issues are addressed.  First, it is proposed that aspect is a syntactic category, and several possible instantiations of aspect in phrase structure are discussed.  Secondly, the aspectual principles of argument structure are applied to verb-particle constructions, resultative secondary predicates, and double object constructions; and these principles are shown to shed some light on the syntactic behavior and structure of these constructions.  The usefulness of aspect as a tool for syntactic investigations is demonstrated.

The aspectual principles of argument structure place constraints on the kind of event participants that can be internal arguments.  In this way these principles provide a principled mapping between the ‘meaning’ of verbs and their syntactic representations.  The Aspectual Interface Hypothesis is proposed, which maintains that the two systems ‘communicate’ only through a common aspectual vocabulary.  Under this view only the aspectual information in thematic roles is visible to the syntax, and thematic hierarchies are not necessary in the mapping between ‘meaning’ and syntax.  The Aspectual Interface Hypothesis is consonant with a highly autonomous syntax.

Thesis supervisor:         Kenneth Hale

Title:                             Ferrari P. Ward Professor in Linguistics

Table of Contents

Chapter 1         Introduction                                                                                          9

            1.1       Introduction                                                                                          9

            1.2       Aspect                                                                                                 12

            1.3       Delimitedness                                                                                       17

Appendix         Overview of literature on aspectual verb classes                                    28

Chapter 2         The grammatical reality of affectedness and delimitedness                      36

            2.1       English verb-particle combinations                                                         36

            2.2       English resultative secondary predicates                                     42

            2.3       Finnish accusatives and partitive case                                        47

            2.4       Morphological aspect                                                                           51

            2.5       Affectedness                                                                                         58

                        2.5.1    English middles and noun phrase passivization                59

                        2.5.2    Japanese numeral quantifiers                                                     63

                        2.5.3    Total affectedness                                                                     66

                        2.5.4    Affectedness and transitivity                                                      69

Chapter 3         An aspectual theory of affectedness                                                       75

            3.1       Affectedness as an aspectual property                                       75

                        3.1.1    Verbs of consumption and creation                                           76

                        3.1.2    Verbs of change of physical state                                              87

                        3.1.3    Verbs of abstract change of state                                              99

                        3.1.4    Achievement verbs                                                                   100

                        3.1.5    Verbs of motion                                                                        102

                        3.1.6    Affectedness as an aspectual property                           105

            3.2       Lexical entries for affectedness verbs                                                     107

            3.3       Affectedness and the compositionality of delimitedness              112

                        3.3.1    Translation of spatial delimitedness into temporal

                                    delimitedness                                                                            112

                        3.3.2    Parallels between the count/mass and delimited/non-

                                    delimited distinctions                                                                 120

                        3.3.3    Some semantic approaches to the compositionality of

                                    delimitedness: Verkuyl, Hinriche, Dowty                                    125

            3.4       Total affectedness                                                                                 137

            3.5       Delimitedness and case                                                             142

Chapter 4         Aspectual principles of argument structure                                             147

            4.1       Introduction                                                                                          147

            4.2       Direct arguments                                                                                   149

                        4.2.1    Verbs of imparting motion                                                         151

                        4.2.2    Unergatives, reflexives and cognate objects                               153

                        4.2.3    Verbs describing events with no change in the internal

                                    argument                                                                                  155

                        4.2.4    Conative and antipassive alternations                                         158

            4.3       External arguments                                                                                162

                        4.3.1    External arguments and thematic roles                           162

                        4.3.2    External arguments and the translation of spatial

                                    delimitedness into temporal delimitedness                                  174

                        4.3.3    Summary                                                                                  179

            4.4       Oblique arguments                                                                                179

                        4.4.1    Delimiting oblique arguments                                                     180

                        4.4.2    A delimiting requirement on secondary arguments                      185

            4.5       Summary                                                                                              189

Chapter 5         Syntax of a theory of aspect                                                                  191

            5.1       Introduction                                                                                          191

            5.2       Aspect and phrase structure                                                                  193

                        5.2.1    Semantic independence of tense/modality and aspect     194

                        5.2.2    Syntactic independence of tense/modality and aspect     202

                        5.2.3    Against a purely featural approach to aspect                              206

                        5.2.4    Possible instantiations of aspect in phrase structure                    209

            5.3       Aspectual particles, resultatives, and double object constructions           215

Chapter 6         Aspect and the mapping of cognitive structure into syntax                      245

            6.1       Introduction      The Aspectual Interface Hypothesis                              245

            6.2       Unaccusatives and unergative verbs                                                       250

                        6.2.1    Introduction                                                                              250

                        6.2.2    Review of the syntactic approach to unaccusatives and

                                    unergatives                                                                               252

                        6.2.3    Semantic differences between unaccusatives and

unergatives                                                                               259

                        6.2.4    The aspectual distinction between unaccusatives and

                                    unergatives                                                                               267

            6.3       The locative alternation                                                             277

            6.4       The body part/possessor alternation                                                      284

            6.5       Psych verbs                                                                                          286

            6.6       UTAH and thematic roles                                                                     294

            6.7       Thematic hierarchies and the mapping of cognitive structure into

                        syntax                                                                                                   297

            6.8       The ATH and learnability                                                                      310