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  • The syntax of time ed. by Jacqueline Guéron and Jacqueline Lecarme
  • Marit Julien
The syntax of time. Ed. by Jacqueline Guéron and Jacqueline Lecarme. (Current studies in linguistics 37.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004. Pp. xii, 662. ISBN 0262572176. $45.

This volume consists of updated versions of talks presented at the International Round Table on the Syntax of Tense and Aspect, held in November 2000 at the University of Paris 7. As the title of the volume suggests, the common denominator is time, but the role of time in grammar is given a very wide interpretation, as the topics of the chapters range from the aspectual properties of nominalizations to the interpretation of sentential tense in various types of discourse.

There are three chapters that deal with the internal structure of nominals. Alexandra Cornilescu discusses the aspectual properties and the argument structures of event nominals in Romanian, arguing that the genitive argument of a [ + telic] nominal will be an object, whereas the genitive argument of a [ − telic] nominal can be a subject or an object. Jacqueline Lecarme addresses the hypothesis, put forward in Pesetsky & Torrego 2001, that nominal case is an uninterpretable T(ense) feature, and she shows that in Somali, DPs have interpretable tense. But Somali DPs do not enter into a syntactic relation with a verbal T-chain—instead, they are adjuncts, whereas argument positions are occupied by pronouns. Then David Pesetsky and Esther Torrego develop their own hypothesis into a theory that uses the properties of T to account for the complementation patterns of verbs, nouns, and adjectives. They postulate that verbal predicational structures involve another T below the T that bears a relation to the subject. The lower T, called TO, seeks an uninterpretable T in its complement, and consequently, the [End Page 208] lower T is satisfied if the complement of the verb contains a DP or a CP. A nominal projection, by contrast, involves a TO that requires an interpretable T in its complement, and because of this, PPs and CPs with complementizers can be complements to N, while DPs cannot. Finally, there is no TO associated with adjectival predicates, which explains why adjectives take CP and PP but no DP complements.

Another clearly distinguishable group of papers deal with the internal syntax of the verb phrase. Nomi Erteschik-Shir and Tova Rapoport present a theory according to which verbs are built in the syntax from a limited inventory of meaning components: manner/means/instrument, state, and location, and the thematic and aspectual properties of each verb follow from its internal syntactic structure. Beth Levin and Malka Rappaport Hovav address the contrasting behavior of unaccusative and unergative verbs in resultative constructions, and claim that it is not connected to telicity, but to the complexity of the event that the verb describes. They put forward the generalization that there must be at least one argument per subevent. Angelika Kratzer argues that the link between telicity and accusative case that is known to exist in Finnish, for example, can also be detected in German, and probably in English as well. Finally, Susan D. Rothstein examines derived accomplishments, or more precisely, progressive achievements and resultative predications with activity verbs, and concludes that the properties customarily associated with accomplishments are in reality the properties of lexical accomplishments, and that the lexical aspectual classes should be seen as sets of constraints on the verb meanings that can be derived in the grammar.

Taking into consideration both the verb phrase and the functional domain, Jacqueline Guéron proposes that a formal feature [ ± extended], which is found in all vocabulary items, is responsible for the construal of the temporal structure of events as well as for the relation between the event and the speech time.

Moving away from the verb phrase into the functional domain, several papers address problems having to do with tense/aspect morphology. Abdelkader Fassi Fehri argues that the main morphological opposition found in Arabic verbs, traditionally taken to be a contrast between perfective...


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