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DORIT ABUSCH, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This work is intended to contribute to the study of aspect. It is claimed that, just as change and causation can be viewed conceptually as either instantaneous or continuous, inchoatives and process verbs whose meanings involve such notions, appear in natural language as either event or process type verbs. We adopt Dowty's hypothesis that the difference between classes of aspectual verbs may be captured by the presence of abstract operator such as Become, CAUSE and DO in the logical structure of verbs, where these notions from generative semantics are formalized in a Montague Grammar. We argue that the presence of the abstract operators does not always yield the classification of aspectual verbs predicted by Dowty, due to the interaction of the meaning of these operators with other factors. While achievement and accomplishment verbs, which are analyzed as including Become and CAUSE respectively in their meaning, are event type verbs for Dowty, inchoative and causative verbs which are process verbs may be found in natural language. Their semantic analysis involves notions such as comparison, scope relations, conditions on the relationship between the time at which the two sentences underlying a causative sentence are true and the time adverbial modifying it, as well as other related topics concerning the interaction of the properties of partitivity and additivity and process causative verbs, and the gap problem in the case of process verbs vs. that in the case of process inchoative verbs. It is shown that Hebrew verb morphology system called "binyanim"reflects some of the subtler distinctions among verbs involving change and causation. The relations between the aspectual property of being an inchoative and change and that between being an accomplishment and causation is examined via the Hebrew binyanim, which are traditionally claimed to carry the semantic features of inchoation and causation. Several issues concerning the semantics of the English progressive, which is an overt aspectual marker, are discussed. Following Dowty and Kratzer a proposal is given analyzing it as an expression of necessity whose meaning contains a free variable over sets of worlds, which is fixed by the context of utterance.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

ABUSCH, DORIT, "ON VERBS AND TIME (MONTAGUE GRAMMAR, SEMANTICS, ASPECT, TENSE)" (1985). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI8509519.