Event Detail

Mon Feb 24, 2014
Dwinelle 3401, 12:30–2:30 PM
Meaning Sciences Club
Ryan Bochnak (Berkeley)
Degree achievements in a degree-less language

Semantic analyses of degree achievement verbs like “to widen” and “to cool” take as their starting point the fact that they are derived from gradable adjectives (Dowty 1979; Hay et al. 1999; Kennedy & Levin 2008). In this talk, I explore the interpretation of change of state verbs derived from gradable predicates in Washo (Hokan/isolate). Importantly, gradable predicates in this language have previously been argued not to lexicalize measure functions, unlike those in English, providing evidence for cross-linguistic variation in the lexical semantics of gradable predicates (Bochnak 2013). The questions I seek to address in this talk are the following: (1) Do degree achievement verbs in Washo display the same range of interpretations as their English counterparts? (2) Can these interpretations be accounted for without recourse to measure functions and degrees, maintaining a degree-less analysis for gradable predicates? (3) What do the results tell us about the role of degrees and measure functions in gradable adjectives and degree achievement verbs cross-linguistically?