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Title:A contextual analysis of definite and indefinite interpretations of tense
Author(s):Park, Seong Eun
Director of Research:Lasersohn, Peter
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Lasersohn, Peter
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Yoon, James; Ionin, Tania; Schreiner, Sylvia
Department / Program:Linguistics
Discipline:Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Tense
Semantics
Context
Salience
Context update
Temporal domain
Temporal adverbials
Abstract:This dissertation analyzes tense, in particular the past tense, within English in the framework of formal semantics. Previous tense theories are either indexical or quantificational—whether tenses refer to time or an existentially quantified time interval prior to the time of utterance suffices for a past tense morpheme. This dissertation proposes that tense has both interpretations, definite and indefinite, and which interpretation a tense has depends on whether tense denotes salient times in the context. Tense involves a free variable over times and is assigned its value via an assignment function. Two different readings are achieved by two different types of assignment function: an assignment function fixed by the context assigns salient times to definite tenses, and another type of assignment function for indefinite tenses, which agrees with the function fixed by the context. In a discourse, times denoted by tenses and temporal adverbials are added to the context as salient. There may be multiple time intervals that are contextually salient, and these are available for the interpretation of subsequent temporal elements. That is, they may work as an antecedent of anaphoric adverbials, be assigned to definite tenses, or possibly, be involved in complex tenses without further proposing a fourth time, as some previous theories have done. The system in this dissertation, with both definite and indefinite interpretations of tense, successfully ac-counts for some dynamic temporal phenomena without overlooking either quantificational or indexical aspects of tense. Also, this dissertation affirms that tenses are interpreted within a limited domain and shows how temporal domains are selected and shifted in discourse. Temporal adverbials are analyzed as well and some previously raised problems are solved in the analysis. Immediately is also investigated, which shows sensitivity to the size of relevant temporal domains and characterizes the interval between the two events it connects. This dissertation presumes that tense is contextual and relationally determined by time intervals in the context. Contentious ideas in previous tense theories are unified in this dissertation with regard to definiteness, which has been a more robust concept for nominals, and such a framework makes a tense theory more flexible and comprehensive. This theory provides novel intuitions about various temporal phenomena in a discourse, which are contextually and pragmatically shaped.
Issue Date:2017-12-06
Type:Text
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/99221
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Seong Eun Park
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-03-13
Date Deposited:2017-12


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