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Aspectual distinctions in Sk̲wx̲wú7mesh Bar-el, Leora Anne

Abstract

The classification of predicates according to their aspectual properties has a long history, dating back to Aristotle. Perhaps the most influential classification can be attributed to Vendler (1967). The time schemata to distinguish his four classes relies on a combination of entailment patterns and behaviours of "verbs" in different structures. Since Vendler, many researchers have revisited this classification, differing on both the proposed number of classes as well as the ways in which they are derived. Although they use different diagnostics to motivate their systems, what these approaches seem to share in common is the claim that aspectual classes are universal. This thesis addresses this claim and proposes that based on data from Skwxwu7mesh (a.k.a. Squamish), the representations of predicates vary crosslinguistically. I argue for a classification based on the presence/absence of intrinsic initial and final points in predicate representations. Chapters Two and Three are concerned with final points and initial points, respectively. I present four diagnostics which I argue test for the presence of final points and two diagnostics that test for the presence of initial points. Based on the results of these tests, I propose a modification of Rothstein's (2004) predicate templates (that in turn are a modification of Dowty's 1979 templates) to account for the classification of Skwxwu7mesh predicate classes that emerges. Chapters Four and Five are concerned with perfectivity and imperfectivity, respectively. In these chapters, I motivate the claim that Skwxwu7mesh has both a progressive marker and an imperfective marker. I propose that adopting Dowty's (1979) analysis of the progressive and Kratzer's (1998) analysis of the imperfective, along with the predicate representations introduced in chapters two and three, can derive the readings of progressive and imperfective predicates in Skwxwu7mesh. Based on a small study involving 10 native speakers of English who are not linguists, in Chapter Six I briefly revisit English aspectual classes. Using the results of some of the diagnostics from chapters two and three, I show the contrast between English and Skwxwu7mesh predicate representations, highlighting the claim that aspectual classes do indeed vary cross-linguistically.

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