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On the Creation of Event Structure: Agentive Copular Clauses María J. Arche On Linguistic Interfaces II, Belfast 2 nd – 4 th December 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "On the Creation of Event Structure: Agentive Copular Clauses María J. Arche On Linguistic Interfaces II, Belfast 2 nd – 4 th December 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 On the Creation of Event Structure: Agentive Copular Clauses María J. Arche On Linguistic Interfaces II, Belfast 2 nd – 4 th December 2010

2 Frame & Broad Questions Event structure understood as aspect structure (Borer 2005; Ritter & Rosen 2000; Rosen 1999; Travis 2000, 2010; a.o.) More in particular, regarding how aspect structure is built up in the syntax – E.g. Borer (2005): Quantity projection: gives telicity Stativizer: statives. “Adjectivizer” (?)  Activities are the case by default How is atelicity dealt with syntactically?

3 Case Study: Copular Clauses with adjectival Mental Properties Why these clauses? Because these copular clauses show an alternation between state-like behavior and activity-like behavior. Ultimate question: does the structure contain a stativizer?

4 Mental Properties Mental Properties (MPs): attribute a property to the mind or character of the individual. (Stowell 1991) – Examples : silly, thoughtful, modest, cruel, kind, mean, polite, rude, kind, polite, courteous, cruel, mean, imprudent, generous, considerate, modest, humble, intelligent, smart, stupid, silly, dumb, idiotic, noble, cowardly, cunning. (1) John is silly/thoughtful/modest

5 A subset of these can be understood in relation to another individual, usually expressed via a PP. Stowell called them “Relational Mental Properties (RMP). (2) John is cruel/kind/mean to Bill

6 Interpretations (1) John is silly/thoughtful/modest (2) John is cruel/kind/mean (3) John is tall/English/short-sighted “Extra interpretation” (Lakoff 1966; Partee 1977) with mental properties only: (4) John was silly ‘John did a silly thing’ (5) John was mean/nice to Bill ‘John did something mean/nice that had Bill as its goal/beneficiary’ Classical IL Interpretation Classical IL Interpretation

7 Behavior of Mental Properties The clauses they are in do not behave like states from the aspectual point of view.

8 Why?: Proposal (part I) The different behavior of clauses (1) & (2) vs. (3) is due to the different syntactic structure of the Small Clause (SC) taken by the copular verb. In particular, an additional head “Cause” exists within the SC of (1) & (2). (1)John is silly/thoughtful/modest (MP) (2)John is cruel/kind/mean (to Bill) ( RMP) (3)John is tall/English/short-sighted

9 ( Stowell 1978) Be Be AdjP John tall/silly/cruel Be Be AdjP cruel CauseP John CauseP Cause ApplP (event) PP Appl to Bill Be Be AdjP cruel “CauseP” John CauseP “Cause” “ApplP” ( implicit event ) PP Appl to Bill The dependence of Appl head (introducing the beneficiary/goal) on Cause: whenever the PP is present, the clause is agentive. (Truswell 2007/2010). Cause does not depend on the Appl head: agentive non relational structures (6): (6) John was thoughtful (*to Bill) ( ✓ on purpose). Stative IL Predication

10 The implicit event The implicit event is recoverable via a proform referring to an action (e.g. do ) (7) and an adjunct by -phrase (8), which can name the event. (7) They say that John was cruel to Bill, but I do not know what he did to him. (8) John was cruel to Bill by humiliating him in front of his friends.

11 Two events In “active” copula clauses, the copular clause refers to one event and the event represented in the “Cause” head is another event. So it is not enough to say that the copular clause refers to a different event in these cases, namely, to an active event. – Early proposals, Partee 1977: 2 copulas. They can have different participants: (9) John was cruel to Bill by humiliating his father. CRUEL (John, Bill) HUMILATE (john, Bill’s father)

12 John was nice to Bill TP John i T T Be Be AdjP (= Small Clause) nice CauseP t i CauseP Cause ApplP (implicit event) PP Appl to Bill

13 Proposal (part II) This perspective can account for other characteristics of MPs.

14 Other Syntactic Properties of MPs MPs can have a control infinitival as their complement (Stowell 1991) (11) John was silly to sell his shares (12) John was cruel to humiliate Bill’s father We know already that RMPs can have a PP as a complement: (13) John was cruel to Bill (14) ??John was silly to Bill The control infinitival and the PP complement cannot co- occur (Stowell 1991; Arche 2006; Kertz 2006; Landau 2009): (15) * John was cruel to Bill to humiliate his father

15 Idea The INFINITIVE and the PP cannot co-occur because each complement complies with a different syntactic frame: – INFINITIVE: state structure – PP (beneficiary/goal): active structure – with Cause.

16 MPs + Control INFs

17 Be Be AdjP John i nice nice to-INF PRO i INF Be Be AdjP nice CauseP John CauseP Cause ApplP (event) PP Appl to Bill John was nice to drive me home John was nice to Bill

18 Summary

19 Conclusions All these contrasts can be accounted for by differences in the event structure in a uniform way. The differences between state and active readings derive from the different syntactic frames of the “subjects” of the Small Clauses.

20 Agency emerges in the presence of a head denoting some sort of active event (Cause). The control infinitival and the PP complement cannot co-appear because the functional structure they form part of is different and contradictory. In the same direction than semantic analysis by Kertz 2006.

21 Previous proposals Stowell 1991; Landau These clauses are Stage-Level However – SL-ness does not amount to activity: there are SL stative clauses: (16) Bill is sick (*on purpose). – Languages showing a distinction in the copula that can be described in terms of IL/SL do not show a compulsory use of the SL copula in these cases.

22 Spanish copular cases Carlson 1977: – Stage is defined as “a spatially and temporally bounded manifestation of something.” – An individual is defined as “that whatever-it-is that ties a series of stages together to make them stages of the same thing.”

23 In Spanish, IL copular constructions can be agentive (Arche 2006), (16): (16) Juan es guapo Juan SER(IL-copula)-pres-3ps handsome ‘Juan is a handsome person’ (17) Juan está guapo Juan ESTAR(SL)-pres-3ps handsome ’Juan looks handsome’ – compatible with Juan being an unattractive person. (18) Juan es amable con Pedro a propósito Juan SER(IL-copula)-pres-3ps nice with Pedro on pupose ‘Juan is nice to Pedro on purpose’

24 Can the study of these clauses tell us anything about the state/activity alternation? – The doctor/blood blocked the vessel (Kratzer 2000) Can we still say we have a stativizer whenever we have an adjective? Maybe we can have it here as well and say that the event is in sort-of the scope of the state denoted by the adjective and that is why the event is understood as “cruel” etc. as well. (Structure slide 17)

25 REFERENCES


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