The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LingLunch 4/25 - Yiyang Guo (University of Cambridge/Harvard University)

Speaker: Yiyang Guo (University of Cambridge/Harvard University)
Title: Event counting, eventuality, and aspect
Time: Thursday, April 25th, 12:30pm – 2pm
Location: 32-D461

Abstract: Counting in the domain of events can exhibit a two-level nesting structure, i.e., the event level and the occasion level (Cusic 1981), as illustrated by the use of stacked time-adverbials in English (Andrews 1983; Ernst 1994; Cinque 1999) and two types of verbal classifiers in Mandarin Chinese (Deng 2013; Donazzan 2013; Zhang 2017). In Mandarin Chinese, event counting interacts with eventuality types and aspect. In this talk, I will provide two main observations:

(i) Countability of events hinges on eventuality types. Specifically, statives cannot be counted, activities allow counting at both the occasion level and the event level, while achievements and accomplishments can only be counted at the occasion level.

(ii) Counting expressions display difference in their compatibility with aspect. They are incompatible with the progressive marker -zhe, compatible with the perfective marker -le, but non-uniformly compatible with the experiential perfect marker -guo.

To account for the distribution of counting expressions, I will propose an atom-based analysis of event-counting (cf. Bach 1986; Krifka 1989; Landman 2006) under the framework of neo-Davidsonian event semantics (Parsons 1990; Carlson 1984; a.o.).