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Auteur: Daniel ALTSHULER

A typology of modal, aspectual operators

Abstract/Résumé: Ever since David Dowty's (1979) influential work on the semantics of the English progressive, researchers have made various proposals to capture the modality encoded by the progressive operator (e.g. Landman 1992, Bonomi 1997, Portner 1998, Condoravdi 2009), as well as related operators, such as the imperfective in Slavic and Romance (e.g. Zucchi 1999, Cipria & Roberts 2000, Kagan 2007, Anand & Hacquard 2009). Interestingly, recent research has revealed that perfective operators in many of the world's languages also require a modal semantics (e.g. Hindi (Singh 1998); Thai (Koenig & Muansuwan 2000); St’át’imcets, Skwxwúmesh (Bar-El, Davis & Matthewson 2005); Karachay Balkar (Tatevosov 2007); SENĆOŦEN (Kiyota 2008)). This talk proposes a typology of aspectual operators that require a modal semantics based on whether an operator: (i) requires (non-)proper events parts in the extension of the VP that it combines with and (ii) imposes a ‘boundedness requirement’, which says that a VP-event part must either have culminated or not have developed any further. I provide evidence for such a typology by looking at the Russian imperfective, the English progressive, and the perfective in Hindi and Karachay Balkar. I argue that each of these languages has a modal, aspectual operator which fills a distinct cell in the proposed typology. The typology is important because it allows us to get rid of Smith's (1991) notion of ‘neutral aspect’, used to classify aspectual operators as having properties of both the perfective and the imperfective. I conclude that perfective and imperfective operators differ in that the former always encode the proposed ‘boundedness requirement’ while the latter never do.

This paper has been published as : Daniel Altshuler, "A typology of partitive aspectual operators", in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, August 2014, volume 32, Issue III, pp.735-775.