Case and Partitivity in aspectual composition (March 2016 - March 2017)
Funded by 'Strategischer Förderfond Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf'
The project investigates the role of case as a strategy of aspectual composition of incremental theme verbs (like eat, drink, build, write or read). In some languages, telicity of incremental theme predications is dependent on the case of the incremental theme argument. Languages such as Polish and Russian have a accusative/genitive alternation for incremental theme verbs (if the incremental theme verb is used in the perfective aspect): the incremental theme argument is interpreted as being totally affected, if it is marked by the accusative. The use of the genitive results in a partitive reading. There is no consens whether the partitive reading results in an atelic reading or not. The projects investigates the conditions under which case affects telicity of incremental theme predications in detail: in which contexts does case have an effect on aspectual composition?; which incremental theme verbs license the alternation?; how does verbal semantics (or the choice of the verbal prefix in Slavic languages) constraint the alternation? and how does the case alternation interact with grammatical aspect? A further topic investigated in the project is the role of partitivity in aspectual composition. A (pseudo-)partitive interpretation of case forms (e.g. Genitive in Slavic) will be contrasted with case forms that seem not to license a (pseudo-)partitive interpretation (e.g. accusative in Turkish). The use of the accusative in Turkish is triggered by definiteness/specificity and does not alternate with genitive case to yield an opposition between totally and partially affected incremental theme arguments. Thus, the licensing conditions and the semantic effect of case alternation (zero vs. accusative in Turkish) differs from the case alternation in Savic languages. This raises the following questions: (i) dose case have different efefcts on aspectual composition in the Slavic languags than in Turkish or is case a uniform strategy of aspectual composition?, (ii) does (pseudo)-partitivity play an essential role in aspectual composition? Due to the role of partitivity, the project also investigates the role of explicit partitive constructions in aspctual composition, to compare it with (pseudo)-partitive interpretations triggered by case forms. The languages investiaged in the project include Polish, Serbo-Croation, Russian, Turkish and Persian.