Advanced Subjects in Semantics
The class divides into a tutorial and study of the recent literature.
Topic: Aspectual operations in the middle field
After a short introduction on the semantics of aspectual classes (states-activities-accoplishments-achievements), we will focus on this year's topic: Aspectual operations in the middle field.
The middle field is the name for the region between VP and the subject. Semantically, we find here operations that map sets of events (or states) onto sets of events (or states). These operations can be aspect – like the progressive, which focusses on events in progress (Fred is writing a book), and the perfect, which focusses on events as completed (Fred has written a book); they can be perspective, point of view – taking an internal or an external perspective on events; they can be modality, modal operators; or they can be tense, ordering events as past, present or future.
We will study in detail the semantics of the progressive and of the perfect (and their relation to perspective). And we will study aspect changing operations, in particular stativity operations, operations that map sets of events onto sets of states.
An example of a stativity operation is the habitual operation that many theories postulate. This is the operation that derives an habitual interpretation in the simple present sentence Fred smokes, as opposed to the present progressive Fred is smoking.
We will see that this habitual operator is an aspect changing modal operator (which inputs a set of episodic smoking events, and outputs a stative predicate that expresses a modal generalization).
Prerequisits: Foundations of formal semantics.
The course is open to MA students and advanced BA students in semantics.
Reading material: Papers provided in the course of the class.
Requirements: Seminar paper.
With permission, the class can also be taken as a non-seminar which requires a little paper.