Visibility parameter: An unusual class of adverbials


A small set of adverbials permit an unusual, ​ low reading. In English, again and almost allow the low reading (e.g. Bill almost closed the door as ‘Bill did something, the result of which was the door being almost closed’). For other adverbials, this is unavailable (Bill closed the door twice ≠ ‘Bill did something which resulted in the door being closed twice’). Surprisingly, some equivalents of ​ again/almost ​ also have low readings in other languages. This study explores the availability of low readings in English. We hypothesise that the aspectual class of the verb/predicate plays a role in whether the low reading is permissible. Testing the role of aspectual classes is important because aspectual properties are often relevant for temporal/aspectual particles. The default hypothesis should thus be that aspectual properties are relevant for again as well. Participants judge the availability of low readings on a 4-point Likert-scale, where the context forces the low reading. Preliminary results suggest that low readings are fairly productive (contrary to Scholler 2014). However, while verbs of motion with a goal PP were judged as perfect, other verbs of motion structures and causatives appear more marked; aspect apparently matters. Currently we are testing whether there is a significant difference between low readings when comparing various aspectual subclasses (e.g. different resultatives), using one-way ANOVA. Subsequently we will test whether there is a significant difference in the availability of low readings among broader aspectual classes (e.g. goal PPs and resultatives). Our results indicate that the low reading is fairly productive in English.

12 Oct 2018 10.15 AM — 10.45 AM
Aspen Grove, Provo, Utah
Benjamin Slade
Benjamin Slade
Associate Professor of Linguistics

My research interests include formal semantics and syntax, historical linguistics, South Asian and Caribbean languages, and the use of computational concepts in formal linguistics.