This article describes the different types of temporal adverbial, interactions of adverbials and tense, and tense and adverbials in subordinate clauses. From a morphosyntactic view, there are six different types of temporal adverbial: an adverbial composed of a noun phrase (NP) and an adposition; an NP functioning as an adverbial; sentential; a temporal adverbial clause; and based on adverbs and adjectives, respectively. This morphosyntactic classification is not coextensive with a semantic classification. The article uses a fourfold semantic classification—positional adverbials, quantificational adverbials, adverbials of duration, and Extended-Now adverbials—that more or less follows the traditional ones (except for Extended-Now adverbials, which is a novel category).
Helen de Hoop and Joost Zwarts
Case has not received a lot of attention from formal semanticists, probably because the approach has mostly focused on languages with relatively sparse case systems. This article examines how formal tools are being used in the study of the meaning of case. There are many semantic aspects of case that lend themselves to such a treatment, such as argument structure, quantification, aspect, and space. This article looks at the application of formal semantics to case in the domains of argument structure and space. First, it considers work in which the central notions of grammatical function and noun phrase interpretation play an important role in relation to case marking. It then explores Keenan's (1989) semantic case theory, and de Hoop's (1992) and van Geenhoven's (1996) type-shifting approaches to case and voice alternations. Following Krifka (1992) and Kiparsky (1998), the article shows how the mereological approach can account for the semantics of partitive case in Finnish. The article concludes with a discussion on case and spatial structure.
This article presents an overview of the basic issues concerning the relationship between case, grammatical relations, and semantic roles such as agent and patient. In most approaches, semantic roles are directly linked to abstract grammatical relations for the core arguments of the clause. Cases are considered to be a surface expression of grammatical relations. All approaches that are concerned with the relationship between semantic roles and grammatical relations are able to capture the argument realisation of transitive verbs selecting highly potent agents and strongly affected patients such as ‘break’, ‘open’, or ‘hit’ in accusative languages. Approaches using role lists instead of semantic decompositions lack the means to cope with the large number of individual roles that are selected by the full range of verbs and with the reverse case pattern in ergative constructions. Accordingly, this article deals primarily with the relationship (or linking) between grammatical relations and semantic roles in different types of approaches. It also discusses role lists and role hierarchies, along with proto-roles and lexical semantic structures.
Categorial grammar predates Syntactic Structures by two decades. Characterized by classification of expressions by recursively defined types, it is highly lexicalist or, as in the formulation pursued here, purely lexicalist. The chapter address continuity (concatenation) and discontinuity (interpoloation), categorial syntactic structures as proof nets, Curry-Howard type-logical semantics, and complexity and acceptability.
Ronald W. Langacker
Research leading to the formulation of cognitive grammar began in the spring of 1976. On the American theoretical scene, it was the era of the “linguistics wars” between generative semantics and interpretive semantics. With generative semantics, cognitive grammar shares only the general vision of treating semantics, lexicon, and grammar in a unified way. Cognitive grammar is part of the wider movement that has come to be known as cognitive linguistics, which, in turn, belongs to the broad and diverse functionalist tradition. It is strongly functional, granted that the two basic functions of language are symbolic (allowing conceptualizations to be symbolized by sounds and gestures) and communicative/interactive. The symbolic function is directly manifested in the very architecture of cognitive grammar, which posits only symbolic structures for the description of lexicon, morphology, and syntax. In principle, cognitive grammar embraces phonology to the same extent as any other facet of linguistic structure. To date, however, there have been few attempts to articulate the framework's phonological pole or apply it descriptively.
Ronald W. Langacker
Cognitive Grammar (CG) is a particular version of cognitive linguistic theory within the broader movement of functional linguistics. It is a usage-based approach grounded in both cognition and social interaction. An independently justified conceptual semantics makes possible an account of grammar as consisting solely in assemblies of symbolic structures (form–meaning pairings).
Henk J. Verkuyl
Compositionality concerns the computation of complex meanings at higher levels of structure on the basis of atomic meanings. This article is based on the conviction that complex meaning of phrase structure should be approached on the basis of the principle of compositionality, and considers two temporal domains—tense and aspect—in which linguists have a choice between a compositional and non-compositional approach. It shows that H. Reichenbach's (1947) tense system suffers from not being compositional and argues that a strictly compositional approach to Slavic aspectuality produces better results than competing non-compositional approaches advocated by most scholars of Slavic languages, mostly on the basis of informal semantics. The article also discusses L. A. te Winkel's binary system, compositionality in Russian language, terminative imperfectivity, and durative perfectivity.
Toshyuki Ogihara and Yael Sharvit
The English present tense does not exhibit a uniform behavior in all embedded environments. Its ability to receive a simultaneous reading in complement clauses of attitude verbs depends on the matrix tense. Likewise, in relative clauses, the present tense is capable of receiving a simultaneous reading if the matrix tense is future, but not if it is past. However, there are languages (for example, Japanese and Hebrew) where the present tense receives (or can receive) a simultaneous reading in complement clauses of attitude verbs, even when the matrix tense is past. There are also languages (such as Japanese, but not Hebrew) where the present tense can receive a simultaneous reading in relative clauses, even when the matrix tense is past. This article explores the nature of these language-internal and cross-linguistic variations, and the success (or lack thereof) of two particular theories in accounting for it: the theory we refer to as the ULC-based theory (ULC stands for Upper Limit Constraint) and the copy-based theory. It then proposes a theory that borrows insights from both of the aforementioned theories to account for embedded tenses.
This chapter reviews recent proposals about how the meanings of evidentials should be captured within formal semantic theories, which attempt to model compositional meaning in a way that gives insight into possible semantic variation. The literature surveyed addresses three questions. First, how should the core meaning of evidential morphemes be characterized and what sorts of information can be inferred from their use in particular contexts and hence does not need to be specified as part of the core meaning? Second, can the way that evidentials compose with the rest of the sentence be captured using existing formal tools, or do evidentials have semantic properties that motivate additions to our semantic toolkit? Third, is there a limit to the range of possible evidential meanings? If so, how can a formal semantic theory constrain the possible meanings?
Linguists started to handle the semantics of linguistic constructions with the proper generality only in the twentieth century. Leonard Bloomfield approaches the notion of a construction via the notion of a constituent. A “constituent” of a linguistic form e is a linguistic form, which occurs in e and also in some other linguistic form. It is an “immediate constituent” of e if it appears at the first level in the analysis of the form into ultimate constituents. A “construction” combines two or more linguistic forms as immediate constituents of a more complex form. Bloomfield's notion of a “pronounceable” string of sounds is purely phonetic. So the entire work of distinguishing grammatical from ungrammatical expressions of the language L rests on the question whether they are “meaningful.”
This article explores the relation between language and thought. The term ‘thought’ is an abstraction. It has its uses: for many philosophical purposes one may simply want to abstract from the linguistic forms that structure propositions, and concentrate on their content alone. But that should not confuse us into believing in an ontology of such entities as ‘thoughts’ – quite apart from the fact that, if we posit such entities, our account of them will not be generative and be unconstrained empirically. Where the content of forms of thought that have a systematic semantics corresponds to a so-called grammatical meaning – meaning derived from the apparatus of Merge, phasing, and categorization – minimalist inquiry is a way of investigating thought, with syntax–semantic alignment as a relevant heuristic idea. Having the computational system of language in this sense equates with having a ‘language of thought’, with externalization being a derivative affair, as independent arguments suggest. Thus, a somewhat radical ‘Whorfian’ perspective on the relation of language and thought is developed, but, it is a Whorfianism without the linguistic-relativity bit.
This chapter discusses a number of developmental disorders that impact language acquisition, and their possible relevance to understanding how language is typically acquired. The chapter begins with a discussion of whether language can be selectively impaired relative to general cognitive abilities, and whether it can be selectively spared. The second half of the chapter discusses how exactly language does and does not “go wrong.” The topics include the relevance of “deviance” and whether there is any evidence for it, and a discussion of the critical importance of both cross-disorder comparisons of the same linguistic phenomena, and of cross-linguistic comparisons of children with the same disorder.
This chapter explores the interpretation of compounds in terms of the framework of lexical semantic analysis developed in Lieber (2004). That work offered an analysis of typical English root compounds such as dog bed, synthetic compounds such as truck driver, and coordinative compounds such as producer-director, all of which are arguably endocentric. The chapter is organized as follows. Section 5.1 gives a brief overview of the system of lexical semantic representation developed in Lieber (2004). Section 5.2 extends the treatment of the semantic body of lexical items beyond that given in Lieber (2004), considering the relationship between the skeleton and the body on a cross-linguistic basis. It shows that the nature of the semantic body is critical to the range of interpretation available to any given compound. Section 5.3 adopts the system of classification for compounds developed in Bisetto and Scalise (2005, and this volume), and shows how it can be applied in terms of the current system. Section 5.4 offers specific analyses of several different types of compounds, from which will emerge the conclusion in Section 5.5 that exocentricity cannot be treated as a single unified phenomenon. Section 5.6 focuses on a kind of compounding that is nearly unattested in English, but is quite productive in Chinese, Japanese, and a number of other languages, namely verb–verb compounds.
Caterina Mauri and Andrea Sansò
This chapter deals with the morphosyntactic and distributional properties of subjunctive and irrealis, with a special focus on their mutual relation and on their relation with indicative and realis in terms of markedness. More complex systems in which there are other moods besides the realis/irrealis (or indicative/subjunctive) dichotomy (e.g. potential, conditional, etc.) are also discussed. The topic is addressed from a terminological, typological, and diachronic perspective, illustrating the most influential approaches to these two linguistic notions. In discussing their phenomenology, it is shown that the distributional differences may in some cases be explained by considering the diachronic development of subjunctives and irrealis forms (both in terms of the identification of their diachronic sources and in terms of how these markers spread throughout different subparts of the functional domain of modality).
Alex Drummond, Dave Kush, and Norbert Hornstein
Until recently, mainstream minimalist theorizing has treated construal as a interface process rather than as a part of core grammar. Recently, a number of authors have resisted this categorization and have tried to reduce binding and control relations to those established by movement, agreement, or some combination of the two. This article compares and contrasts two theories that give the grammar a privileged position with respect to the establishment of binding relations. It discusses variants of Hornstein's movement-based analysis of construal and Reuland's Agree-based theory of reflexive binding.
The chapter discusses selected types of modality and mood in Chadic languages, the largest and typologically most diverse family within the Afroasiatic phylum. It first describes the formal means deployed in Chadic languages in the coding of modality and mood, and then offers a survey of various types of moods and modalities, where the main criterion is their place within illocutionary acts. This includes the distinction between indicative mood and the mood of obligation, categories relating to the domain of epistemic modality (e.g. hypothetical modality, dubitative modality), mirative modality, deontic modality and related moods (imperative, debitive, prohibitive, normative modality), and the realis versus irrealis distinction.
Maya Hickmann and Dominique Bassano
This chapter aims to provide a large overview of research focusing on the development of modality and mood during first language acquisition. This overview synthesizes results concerning both early and later phases of development, within and across a large number of languages, and including some more peripheral categories, such as evidentials and tense–aspect markings. Results recurrently show the earlier acquisition of agent-oriented modality as compared to epistemic modality. However, cross-linguistic variation has raised some questions about this acquisition sequence, suggesting that language-specific properties may partially impact timing during acquisition. In addition, findings about later phases show a long developmental process whereby children gradually come to master complex semantic and pragmatic modal distinctions. The discussion highlights the contribution of these conclusions to current theoretical debates, such as the role of input factors and the relation between language and cognition during ontogenesis.
Katrin Axel-Tober and Remus Gergel
The chapter discusses a selection of major approaches to modality and mood in generative syntax. The primary focus lies on the representation of modal auxiliaries and verbs. Key issues relating to modal adverbs and a selection of aspects pertaining to mood are reviewed. Central points addressed are the structural options for different types of modality including the raising vs control debate and the possible structural correlates of epistemic modality addressed in the literature. The chapter incorporates a discussion of “coherent constructions” following a tradition established for German modals. The latter serves as an illustration of a different type of possible syntactic analysis and, in virtue of its data coverage, also of points of variation even between closely related languages like English and German.
The chapter deals with functional approaches to mood and modality. The focus is on Systemic Functional Grammar (SFG) associated with Halliday’s writings, Dik’s Functional Grammar (FG), and the mainly American functional school of Role and Reference Grammar (RRG). The positions taken by these schools can be described as “structuralist-functionalist” in that they propose models relating form to function. It is shown that a layered representation in some form is required to account for the role of mood and modality. Halliday’s interpersonal grammar has been further developed under the heading of Appraisal. It is typical of this and related theories that it emphasizes the similarity between modality and other types of attitudes which can be expressed by language.
The Oceanic languages form a subgroup within the Austronesian family. The chapter is a cross-linguistic investigation of several kinds of modality: epistemic, deontic, dynamic, desiderative, and timitive; and also of the realis and the irrealis moods. The modalities are expressed by various means: affixes on verbs, particles associated with verbs, and verbs, which in some cases are not fully-fledged verbs. The timitive modality is a complex category: it simultaneously expresses epistemic modality and apprehension about the possible state of affairs. While the validity of the realis–irrealis distinction has been questioned in some of the general typological literature, the present chapter argues that the distinction is useful in Oceanic, even though there are differences of detail among the languages.