Topic: HUMAN SEMANTICS
The Telicity Parameter Revisited
By Hana Filip
The goals of this paper are threefold:
First, to review some recent syntactic accounts of cross-linguistic differences in the expression of telicity in Slavic vs. Germanic languages.
Second, I will argue that the parametric variation in the encoding of telicity cannot be based on a unidirectional specifier head agreement between the verbal functional head linked to the telicity of the VP and the DO-DP in its specifier position, with languages exhibiting two clearly distinct modes of assigning telicity to the functional head. In the simplest terms, in Germanic languages, it is assigned by the DO-DP and in Slavic by the perfective/imperfective aspect of the lexical VP head. Rather, in a given telicity structure in both Slavic and Germanic languages, we actually observe mutual constraints and interactions between the head verb and one of its semantic arguments, namely, the incremental argument.
Third, the variation in the encoding of telicity cannot be limited just to syntactic
factors. Instead, it is semantic (and also pragmatic) factors that ultimately motivate(i) the phenomena that the syntactic parametric approach tries to capture, and also
(ii) telicity phenomena that are a priori recluded by it, left out or unnoticed. In this connection, I will defend the familiar (though often orgotten) insights of Krifka's (1986 and elsewhere) and Dowty's (1991) mereological theory of telicity.
Source: Semantics Archive