Temporal reasoning creating cohesive contexts with aspectual adverbs
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July 1, 2010. Temporal reasoning: creating cohesive contexts with aspectual adverbs. Alice G.B. ter Meulen Linguistics, Université de Geneve Alice.Termeulen@unige.ch. New questions for temporal reasoning. Interaction of aspectual adverbs and determiners.

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Temporal reasoning creating cohesive contexts with aspectual adverbs

July 1, 2010

Temporal reasoning:creating cohesive contexts with aspectual adverbs.

Alice G.B. ter Meulen

Linguistics, Université de Geneve

Alice.Termeulen@unige.ch


New questions for temporal reasoning
New questions for temporal reasoning

  • Interaction of aspectual adverbs and determiners.

    (1) a. * Every child was not singing anymore.

    b. No child was still singing.

  • Interaction aspectual adverbs and temporal adverbs.

    (2) John was already living in NYC before 9/11.

    => John was still living in NYC after 9/11.

  • Indexical inferences.

    (3) There are [F already three] students here => Students are coming


Temporal reasoning creating cohesive contexts with aspectual adverbs

  • ‘Existential contexts’ accept only weak DPs:

    (4) a. There are no new students in this class.

    b.* There are all new students in this class.

  • A determiner D is weak = def. if for every model and subset A,

  • if D(A) is defined then neither DAA nor ~ DAA.

  • Det (N) is a/are N must be contingent

  • truth is dependent upon choice of model.

    (5)

    a. Every child is a child.b. Some children are children.

    c. Both children are children. d. No children are children.


Temporal reasoning creating cohesive contexts with aspectual adverbs

Existential presuppositions of the positive polarity aspectual adverbs already and still project into the common ground, create current existential context.

(6) a. * There was every child not singing anymore.

b. There was no child still singing.

a. Some children had been singing. (prior to current context)

b.Some children were singing. (within current context)

(8) a. * Every child was not singing anymore/no longer singing.

b. No child was still singing.

(9) a. There were no longer (any) children singing. All you could hear was the countertenor.

b. There were still children singing along with the countertenor.


Temporal reasoning creating cohesive contexts with aspectual adverbs

The paraphrases of (8) with the presupposed information in the restrictive relative clauses in (10ab) in perfect tense are unproblematic for either kind DP.

(10) a. Every student who had been singing was no longer singing.

b. No student who had been singing was still singing.

Projection of presuppositions and restrictive relative clauses differ importantly in constraining the current context.


Temporal reasoning creating cohesive contexts with aspectual adverbs

With referential temporal adverbial phrases, aspectual adverbs support temporal and causal inferences, that have much in common with scalar implicatures, but do not seem cancellable, only corrigible.

(11) a. Jane was already living in NYC before 9/11.

b. => Jane was still living in NYC after 9/11.

c. => 9/11 did not make Jane leave NYC.

(12) a. Jane was no longer living in NYC after 9/11.

b. => Jane was still living in NYC before 9/11

c. => 9/11 made Jane leave NYC.


Temporal reasoning creating cohesive contexts with aspectual adverbs

Presuppositions of positive aspectual adverbs also account for the indexical inferences in (13).

(13) a. There are [F still three] students here. => Students are leaving

b. There are [F already three] students here => Students are coming

With the decreasing no longer this inferred information must be added as assumption before conclusions about the number of students in the class can be derived, (no future polarity transition within the current context).

(14) a. There are no longer two students in this class.

=> - if students are leaving => max one student left over in class

- if students are coming => more than two students in class

b. Two students are no longer in this class.

Raising the DP to subject, cf. (14b), makes the DP definite, anaphoric, i.e. not in focus.


Temporal reasoning creating cohesive contexts with aspectual adverbs

Aspectual adverbs modifying weak DPs are constrained in monotonicity, unless blending to a meta-temporal interpretation as counterfactual.

(15) a. Already/?*still three students have arrived.

=> students are on their way

b. Three students have already/*still arrived.

c. Still/?*already three more students have left.

=> students are leaving

d. Three students have still left.


Temporal reasoning creating cohesive contexts with aspectual adverbs

Focus on aspectual adverbs indicates the speaker’s judgments regarding the relative speed of a described event, leading to new monotonicity constraints.

(16) a. *Few people are al[F READY] leaving.

b. There are only (a) few people who are already leaving.

c. A few people are already leaving.

(17) a. *Nobody is STILL here

b. There STILL is nobody here

c. *Everyone is not here anymore


Temporal reasoning creating cohesive contexts with aspectual adverbs

Selected references judgments regarding the relative speed of a described event, leading to new monotonicity constraints.

ter Meulen, A. (1995). Representing Time in Natural Language. The dynamic interpretation of tense and aspect. Bradford Books, MIT Press, Cambridge.

ter Meulen, A. (2004) Temporal reasoning with aspectual adverbs. With H. Smessaert, Linguistics and Philosophy 27.2, 209-261.

ter Meulen, A. (2006) Cohesion in temporal context: aspectual adverbs as dynamic indexicals, in R. Zanuttini et al. (eds.), Comparative and Cross-linguistic research in Syntax and Semantics: Negation, Tense and Clausal Architecture. Georgetown U. Press, 362-377.