Author: Diego Mollá-Aliod Degree: Doctor of Philosophy University: University of Edinburgh Date: May 1997
This thesis is principally concerned with aspectual composition. Although there have been some recent studies on this topic, none has succeeded in explaining all the different aspectual interactions existing between a verb and its arguments. This thesis explores the interpretation of sentences containing transitive or intransitive verbs and their arguments. It is found that sentence interpretation (in terms of distributive and collective readings) together with a speaker's linguistic knowledge of the world plays a decisive role in determining the aspectual interaction between a verb and its arguments.
An important part in this thesis is the study of predicate properties. The parallelism between the domain of objects and that of events is stressed by defining a set of properties which may apply to predicates over both domains, namely quantisation and homogeneity. The analysis is formalised by means of lattices which represent our linguistic knowledge of the structure of the world. Objects and events are categorised by means of predicates, according to the standard (extensional) definition of a predicate in Predicate Logic. Quantisation and homogeneity are defined as properties of first-order predicates, allowing the use of classical deduction procedures to prove the different aspectual interactions.
These aspectual interactions are possible thanks to the link which exists between objects and events, which always appears in the semantics of a sentence. These links are interpreted as thematic roles, although in this thesis we take a look not at the thematic roles in themselves but at those properties which license one or another aspectual interaction. The properties of the thematic roles which are studied here and which are therefore relevant for the several types of aspectual interactions are very closely related to the readings of the sentence in the sense of distributivity and collectivity. There are three types of properties: those involved in a distributive reading; those involved in a collective reading; and those involved in a gradual reading (which here is treated as a special reading which shares properties from both the distributive and the collective readings). Again, as is the case with predicate properties, the link properties are formally defined by means of expressions in first-order predicate logic, and the possible aspectual interactions are demonstrated by applying classical deduction procedures.