21st European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information Bordeaux July 20-31, 2009

Language and Logic introductory course, July 27-31, 2009, 11.00-12.30

Event Semantics and Adverbial Modification

Boban Arsenijević (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona)
Berit Gehrke (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona)


The course gives a general overview of (Neo-)Davidsonian event semantics and its motivation from adverbial modification. It furthermore introduces the notion of event structure, both from a conceptual and a model-theoretic point of view. An important issue concerns how far event structure, aspectual structure and argument structure are mutually related and whether it is possible or even preferable to reduce them to one. To identify elements of the event structure, argument structure and/or aspectual structure, we focus on the (un-)availability of various adverbial modifiers, in particular manner, temporal, aspectual and spatial ones, as well as the relation of such modifiers to the overall structure, e.g. the issue of high (event-external) vs. low (event-internal) adverbs. The presentation of the cross-linguistic diversity in the marking of voice and argument and adjunct roles, and phenomena like serial verb constructions, lead to a general discussion of the nature of the verbal category.


Day 1: Davidsonian and Neo-Davidsonian approaches to event semantics [slides]

Day 2: Event types and properties of events [slides]

Day 3: Event structure [slides]

Day 4: Event structure-related argument-adjunct asymmetries [slides]

Day 5: Event delimitation in time and space [temporal slides] [spatial slides]


Essential readings


Bach, Emmon. 1986. The Algebra of Events. Linguistics and Philosophy 9:5-16.

Davidson, Donald. 1967. The Logical Form of Action Sentences. Reprinted in Davidson 1980, 105-122.

Jackendoff, Ray. 1996. The Proper Treatment of Measuring Out, Telicity and perhaps even Quantification. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 14:305-354.

Koenig, Jean-Pierre, Gail Mauner, and Breton Bienvenue. 2003. Arguments for adjuncts. Cognition 89:67-103.

Kratzer, Angelika. 2005. Building Resultatives. In Claudia Maienborn & Angelika Wöllstein-Leisten (eds.). Events in Syntax, Semantics, and Discourse. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 177-212.

Krifka, Manfred. 1998. The Origins of Telicity. In Susan Rothstein, ed., 197-235.

Moens, Marc, and Mark Steedman. 1988. Temporal Ontology and Temporal Reference. Computational Linguistics 14:15-28.

von Stechow, Arnim. 1996. The Different Readings of Wieder 'Again': A Structural Account. Journal of Semantics 13:87-138.

de Swart, Henritte. 1998. Aspect Shift and Coercion. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 16:347-385.

Vendler, Zeno. 1967a. Verbs and Times. In Zeno Vendler, Linguistics in Philosophy, 97-121. [1957. Philosophical Review 66:143-160.]


Dowty, David. 1979. Word Meaning and Montague Grammar. Dordrecht: Reidel.

Parsons, Terence. 1990. Events in the Semantics of English. A Study in Subatomic Semantics. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Rothstein, Susan. 2004. Structuring Events. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Verkuyl, Henk 1993. A Theory of Aspectuality: The Interaction between Temporal and Atemporal Structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Further readings

Arsenijević, Boban. 2006. Inner Aspect and Telicity: The Decompositional and the Quantificational Nature of Eventualities at the Syntax-Semantics Interface. Doctoral Disseration, Leiden University. LOT Dissertation Series 142.

Bach, Emmon. 1981. On Time, Tense, and Aspect: An Essay in English Metaphysics. In Peter Cole, ed., Radical Pragmatics, 63-81. New York: Academic Press.

Beck, Sigrid and Arnim von Stechow. 2006 Dog after Dog Revisited. Sinn und Bedeutung 10:??-??.

Borer, Hagit. 2005. Structuring Sense. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cresswell, Max J. 1995. Adverbial Modification. Dordrecht: Reidel.

Davidson, Donald. 1980. Essays on Actions & Events. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Declerck, Renaat. 1979. Aspect and the Bounded/Unbounded (Telic/ Atelic) Distinction. Linguistics 17:761-794.

Eckardt, Regine. 1998. Adverbs, Events and other Things: Issues in the Semantics of Manner Adverbs. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag. Linguistische Arbeiten, 379.

Filip, Hana. 2004. Prefixes and the Delimitation of Events. Journal of Slavic Linguistics 12:55-101.

van Geenhoven, Veerle. 2004. For-adverbials, Frequentative Aspect, and Pluractionality. Natural Language Semantics 12.2:135-190.

Gehrke, Berit. 2008. Ps in Motion: On the Semantics and Syntax of P Elements and Motion Events. Doctoral Dissertation, Utrecht University. LOT Dissertation Series 184.

Geuder, Wilhelm. 2000. Oriented Adverbs: Issues in the Lexical Semanticsof Event Adverbs. Doctoral Dissertation, Universität Tübingen.

Giorgi, Alessandra and Fabio Pianesi. 1997. Tense and Aspect: From Semantics to Morphosyntax. New York: Oxford University Press.

Hale, Ken and S. Jay Keyser 1993. On Argument Structure and the Lexical Expression of Syntactic Relations. In Ken Hale and Samuel Jay Keyser (eds.). The View from Building 20, 53-109. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Hay, Jen, Chris Kennedy and Beth Levin. 1999. Scalar Structure Underlies Telicity in "Degree Achievements". Proceedings of SALT IX, 127-144.

Higginbotham, James. 1983. The Logic of Perceptual Reports: An Extensional Alternative to Situation Semantics. Journal of Philosophy 80:100-127.

Higginbotham, James. 1985. On Semantics. Linguistic Inquiry 16:547-594.

Higginbotham, James. 2000. Accomplishments. Ms. USC and University of Oxford.

Hinrichs, Erhard. 1985. A Compositional Semantics for Aktionsarten and NP Reference in English. Doctoral Dissertation, Ohio State University.

Jackendoff, Ray. 1983.Semantics and Cognition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Kamp, Hans and Uwe Reyle. 1993. From Discourse to Logic. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Katz, Graham. 2000. Anti Neo-Davidsonianism: Against a Davidsonian semantics for state sentences. In Carol Tenny and James Pustejovsky (eds.). Events as Grammatical Objects: The Converging Perspectives of Lexical Semantics and Syntax. Stanford: CSLI, 393-416.

Kennedy, Chris, and Louise McNally. 1999. From Event Structure to Scale Structure: Degree Modification in Deverbal Adjectives. Proceedings of SALT IX, 163-180.

Kiparsky, Paul. 1998. Partitive Case and Aspect. In Miriam Butt and Wilhelm Geuder (eds.). The projection of arguments. Stanford: CSLI, 265-307.

Koenig, Jean-Pierre, Gail Mauner and Breton Bienvenue. 2003. Arguments for adjuncts. Cognition 89.2:67-103.

Kratzer, Angelika. 1996. Severing the External Argument from its Verb. In Johan Rooryck and Laurie Ann Zaring, eds., Phrase Structure and the Lexicon, 109-137. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Kratzer, Angelika. 2000. Building Statives. Proceedings of the Berkeley Linguistics Society 26, 385399.

Kratzer, Angelika. 2003. The Event Argument and the Semantics of Verbs. Ms. University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Kratzer, Angelika. 2004. Telicity and the Meaning of Objective Case. In Jacqueline Guéron and Jacqueline Lecarme, eds., The Syntax of Time, 389-424. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Krifka, Manfred. 1989. Nominal Reference, Temporal Constitution and Quantification in Event Semantics. In Renate Bartsch, Johan van Benthem and Peter van Emde Boas (eds.). Semantics and Contextual Expressions, 75-115. Dordrecht: Foris Publications.

Krifka, Manfred. 1991. Four Thousand Ships Passed Through the Lock: Object-Induced Measure Functions on Events. Linguistics and Philosophy 13:487-519.

Krifka, Manfred. 1992. Thematic Relations as Links between Nominal Reference and Temporal Constitution. In Ivan Sag and Anna Szabolcsi, eds., Lexical Matters, 29-53. Stanford: CSLI Publications.

Lang, Ewald, Catherine Fabricius-Hansen, Claudia Maienborn (eds.). 2003. Modifying Adjuncts. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Lascarides, Alex and Nicholas Asher. 1993. Temporal Interpretation, Discourse Relations and Commonsense Entailment. Linguistics and Philosophy 16:437-493.

Levin, Beth and Malka Rappaport-Hovav. 1995. Unaccusativity: At the Syntax-Lexical Semantics Interface. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Levin, Beth and Malka Rappaport-Hovav. 1999. Two Structures for Compositionally Derived Events. Proceedings of SALT IX, 199-223.

Levin, Beth and Malka Rappaport-Hovav. 2005. Argument Realization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lewis, David. 1973. Causation. Journal of Philosophy 70:556-567.

Lewis, David. 1986. Events. In Philosophical Papers, volume II, 241-269. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Link, Godehard. 1987. Algebraic Semantics for Event Structures. Proceedings of the 6th Amsterdam Colloquium, 243-262.

McConnell-Ginet, Sally. 1982. Adverbials and Logical Form: A Linguistically Realistic Theory. Language 58:144-184.

Moltmann, Friederike. 1991. Measure Adverbials. Linguistics and Philosophy 14:629-660.

Mourelatos, Alexander. 1981. Events, Processes, and States. In Philip J. Tedeschi and Annie Zaenen, eds., 191-212.

Pin, Christopher J. 1997. Achievements in Event Semantics. Proceedings of SALT VII, 276-293.

Pin, Christopher J. 1999. Durative Adverbials for Result States. Proceedings of WCCFL 18, 420-433.

Pin, Christopher. 2000a. Happening gradually. Proceedings of the Berkeley Linguistics Society 26, 445-456.

Pin, Christopher. 2005a. Adverbs of completion in an event semantics. In Henk Verkuyl, Henriëtte de Swart and Angeliek van Hout (eds.). Perspectives on Aspect. Dordrecht: Springer, 149-166.

Pin, Christopher. 2008. Aspectual Composition with Degrees. In Louise McNally and Christopher Kennedy (eds.). Adjectives and Adverbs in Semantics and Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 183-219.

Pustejovsky, James. 1991. The Syntax of Event Structure. Cognition 41:47-81.

Pylkknen, L. 2002. Introducing Arguments. Doctoral dissertation, MIT.

Ramchand, Gillian C. 1997. Aspect and Predication: The Semantics of Argument Structure. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rapp, Irene and Arnim von Stechow. 2000. Fast 'Almost' and the Visibility Parameter for Functional Adverbs. Journal of Semantics 16:149-204.

Rappaport-Hovav, Malka and Beth Levin. 1998. Building Verb Meanings. In Miriam Butt and Wilhelm Geuder (eds.). The projection of arguments. Stanford: CSLI, 97-134.

Ritter, Elisabeth and Sarah T. Rosen. 1993. Deriving Causation. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 11:519-555.

Rothstein, Susan. 1995. Adverbial Quantification over Events. Natural Language Semantics 3:1-32.

Schwarzschild, Roger. 2002. The Grammar of Measurement. Proceedings of SALT XII, 225-245.

de Swart, Henritte. 1991. Adverbs of Quantification: A Generalized Quantifier Approach. Doctoral dissertation, University of Groningen.

Talmy, Leonard. 1985. Lexicalization patterns: Semantic structure in lexical forms. In Timothy Shopen, ed., Language Typology and Syntactic Description: volume III: Grammatical Categories and the Lexicon, 130-176. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tenny, Carol. 1994. Aspectual Roles and the Syntax-Semantics Interface. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

Vendler, Zeno. 1967b. Facts and Events. In Zeno Vendler, Linguistics in Philosophy, 122-146.

Verkuyl, Henk 1972. On the Compositional Nature of the Aspects. Dordrecht: Reidel.

Zucchi, Alessandro and Michael White. 2001. Twigs, Sequences and the Temporal Constitution of Predicates. Linguistics and Philosophy 24:223-270.

last modified: 02 August 2009