Semantics Circle: Causal reasoning about states

Vortragende(r)Daniel Altshuler
Institution(en) Hampshire College
Datum 25.11.2019
Uhrzeit 14:00 Uhr
Ort4. Etage, Raum 403 (Seminarraum)

This talk will consider the asymmetry between how we interpret event-event sequences vs. event-state sequences such as:

(1) a. Justin fell down. Ava pushed him (Explanation)

      b. Ava pushed Justin. He fell down (Result)

(2) a. The barn was red. I painted it. (Explanation)

      b.  I painted the barn. It was red. (*Result)

(3)  a. A child was dead. A police officer shot him while he had his hands up. (Explanation) 

       b. A police officer shot a child while he had his hands up. #He was dead. (*Result)

Notice that (2b) cannot have the causal inference found in (1b) and (3c) is infelicitous. Based on these and other related data, we will consider the view that the coherence relation, Result, is aspectually sensitive in a way that Explanation is not. We will consider some challenges to this view and I will outline some ways to proceed. In the end, we will have a new lens through which to think about narrative progression and narrative regression.