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Temporality: Universals and Variation

ISBN: 978-1-4051-9039-8
348 pages
May 2014, Wiley-Blackwell
Temporality: Universals and Variation (1405190396) cover image


Temporality surveys the ways in which languages of different types refer to past, present, and future events, through an in-depth examination of four major language types: tense-based English, tense-aspect-based Polish, aspect-based Chinese, and mood-based Kalaallisut.

  • Cutting-edge research on directly compositional dynamic semantics of languages with and without grammatical tense
  • New in-depth analysis of temporal, aspectual, modal, as well as nominal discourse reference
  • Presents a novel logical language for representing linguistic meaning (Update with Centering)
  • Develops a unified theory of tense, aspect, mood, and person as different types of ‘grammatical centering systems’
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Table of Contents

List of Figures ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Glosses xv

Introduction 1

Part I Semantic Universals 13

1 Direct Semantic Composition 15

1.1 Simple Type Logic (TL0) 16

1.2 A CG.TL0 Fragment of English 17

1.3 Dynamic Type Logic (DL0) 23

1.4 A CG.DL0 Fragment of English 27

1.5 Centering: A Blind Spot of English-Based Logics 34

2 Nominal Reference with Centering 41

2.1 Center v. Periphery: Anaphora to Structured Lists 42

2.2 Kalaallisut Third Person Inflections as Top-Level Anaphora 48

2.3 Mandarin Third Person Features as Top-Level Anaphora 53

2.4 English Third Person Pronouns as Shallow Anaphora 57

2.5 Simple Update with Centering (UC0) 61

3 Tense as Temporal Centering 67

3.1 Polish Third Person Inflections as Top-Level Anaphora 68

3.2 Polish Tenses as Top-Level Temporal Reference 69

3.3 English Tenses as Temporal (In)definites 73

3.4 English Tenses as Top-Level Temporal Reference 78

3.5 UC0 with Temporal Centering (UCτ) 85

4 Aspect as Eventuality Centering 93

4.1 Polish Aspect Features v. Inflections 94

4.2 Mandarin Aspect Features v. Particles 101

4.3 English Aspectual Auxiliaries 108

4.4 UCτ with Mereology (UCτ+) 112

5 Quantification as Reference to Sets 118

5.1 Nominal Quantification and Anaphora 119

5.2 Nominal Quantification and Temporal Reference 127

5.3 Temporal Quantification and Anaphora 130

5.4 UCτ+ with Discourse Referents for Sets (UCτ?a) 134

6 Mood as Illocutionary Centering 142

6.1 Illocutionary Moods with(out) Reportative Recentering 143

6.2 (Not-)at-Issue Content as Modal Discourse Reference 146

6.3 (Not-)at-Issue with Start-Up Illocutionary Referents 150

6.4 Dependent Moods as Perspectival (Re)centering 157

6.5 UCδ?a with Illocutionary Referents (UCε!?a) 160

7 (In)direct Speech and Attitude Reports 166

7.1 Mood with(out) Reportative Recentering Revisited 167

7.2 At-Issue Reports with Finite Complements 174

7.3 At-Issue Reports with Non-Finite Complements 179

7.4 UC: Combining UCτ?a and UCε!?a 185

Part II Temporal Variation 191

8 Tense-Based Temporality in English 193

8.1 Indexical Past with(out) Recentering Aspect 194

8.2 Indexical Non-Past with(out) Recentering Aspect 200

8.3 Reports: Speaker’s View of Subject’s (Non-)Past 203

8.4 Quantification: Tenses in Distributive Contexts 206

8.5 A CG.UC Fragment of English 209

9 Tense-Aspect-Based Temporality in Polish 219

9.1 Relative Past (Im)perfective 220

9.2 Relative Non-Past (Im)perfective 226

9.3 Reports: Subject’s (Non-)Past 230

9.4 Quantification: Distributed (Im)perfectives 233

9.5 A CG.UC Fragment of Polish 237

10 Aspect-Based Temporality in Mandarin 246

10.1 Non-Future: Verifiable Topic State 247

10.2 Future: Prospective Topic State or Comment 253

10.3 Reports: Attitudinal Topic State or Comment 257

10.4 Quantification: Topical Habit or Distributive Comment 260

10.5 A CG.UC Fragment of Mandarin 262

11 Mood-Based Temporality in Kalaallisut 272

11.1 Non-Future: Verifiable Eventualities 273

11.2 Future: Verifiable Eventualities with Future c-Points 278

11.3 Reports: Verifiability from Agent's Perspective 282

11.4 Quantification: Verifiable Habits 287

11.5 A CG.UC Fragment of Kalaallisut 290

Conclusion 298

Bibliography 308

Author Index 319

Subject Index 323

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Author Information

Maria Bittner is a Professor of Linguistics at Rutgers University and a member of the editorial boards of Journal of Semantics and Semantics & Pragmatics. She is well known for her work on cross-linguistic formal semantics, dynamic semantics, and syntax-semantics interface, with special focus on Kalaallisut (Eskimo-Aleut: Greenland). Her early research in LF-based static semantics culminated in Case, Scope, and Binding (1994).

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“By combining a genuinely non-partisan perspective on human languages with uncompromising formal rigor, Maria Bittner succeeds in separating what is particular to individual languages from what is truly universal to human language and thought. An unparalleled achievement and a milestone in the history of semantics.”
-Hans Kamp, University of Stuttgart, Germany 

“Bittner combines insightful linguistic analysis of four very different languages with the construction of a logic, Update with Centering, tailored to their varied semantic and referential needs, and the definition of a grammar formalism according to which logical forms can be constructed compositionally directly from the surface forms of their sentences in context.  Her book is a shining example of linguistics as a cognitive science, and will be read by computer scientists, psychologists, and linguists.”
-Mark Steedman, University of Edinburgh, UK

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