Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft Leibniz-Gemeinschaft

Measures of change in the grammar of verbal predication (MeasChange)

Verbs of Change like, e.g., open (also eat, fix, fall, a.o.) describe states-of-affairs in which some entity undergoes change to one of its inherent or accidental properties. One common way to describe change is as a process leading to a new state-of-affairs. In, e.g., Mary opened the door, a process of opening leading to a state of the door being open. Alternatively, change can be seen as progression along an ordered scale, e.g. as the door progressively becomes more and more open. The scale represents values of different measurements of the ‘openness’ of the door as it is being opened. This project investigates the interaction between these two ways of understanding change by comparing and contrasting for the first time the behavior of Verbs of Change in two major empirical domains: their interaction with diagnostics of event structure and their behavior in various types of measurement constructions. In doing so, we exploit the most recent developments in the grammar of Verbs of Change, which have established that sub-types of Verbs of Change differ in their event structure, with the most recent developments in the grammar of measurement, which provide new ways to distinguish between different types of measures. The objectives of the project are (a) to establish the first comprehensive list of measurable domains in the grammar of Verbs of Change, (b) to identify the different types of measures that appear in the grammar of Verbs of Change, and (c) to reveal the principles that regulate the division of labor between encyclopedic and templatic/ functional verbal meaning in the case of measures.  The project will contribute to the formulation of a comprehensive theory of both verbal decomposition and the grammar of measurement, and also promises to improve our understanding of the interface between verbal meaning and the cognitive system representing quantities.