ISSN: 1139-8736
Depósito Legal: B-48039-2000 The Aspectual Approach

Both the linguistic and philosophical literature have given a prominent role to Aspect (cf. Binnick 1991, Comrie 1976, Chung and Timberlake 1985 and Smith 1991 for overviews of the linguistic literature involving aspect). Of interest here is the aspectual information contributed lexically by the verb, known as Aktionsart (mode of action), and the role it has in argument realization. Aristotle’s taxonomy of verbal aspect was introduced in linguistics via the philosophical literature (Kenny 1963, Ryle 1949, and above all Vendler 1957). Some of the major recent linguistic contributions to the study of verbal lexical aspect are Bach (1986), Binnick (1991), Brinton (1988), Dowty (1979), Freed (1979), Grimshaw (1990), Krifka (1992), Mourelatos (1978), Parsons (1985, 1989), Pustejovsky (1991), Smith (1991), Tenny (1994), Verkuyl (1993), and for Spanish, Morimoto (1998).

Most taxonomies of verbs with regard to how they encode aspect lexically are based on Vendler’s four way classification of verbs into states, activities, accomplishments and achievements that was mentioned in the introduction. It has been only recently that verbal aspect has begun to be thought of as relevant for argument realization. In particular, Krifka’s use of homomorphisms from objects to events to relate the spatial boundedness of objects and the temporal boundedness of events has given rise to aspectual accounts of argument structure. Dowty’s incremental theme can be considered a step in that direction. Nevertheless, Carol Tenny (1987, 1992, 1994, and 1995a and 1995b for motion verbs) has presented the most developed theory of argument structure based on the aspectual properties of the verb. The central principle of her approach is the Aspectual Interface Hypothesis (AIH):

(5.29) Aspectual Interface Hypothesis: (Tenny 1994: 2)
The universal principles of mapping between thematic structure and syntactic argument structure are governed by aspectual properties. Constraints on the aspectual properties associated with direct internal arguments, indirect internal arguments, and external arguments in syntactic structure constrain the kinds of event participants that can occupy these positions. Only the aspectual part of thematic structure is visible to the universal linking principles.
In Tenny’s approach, two aspectual properties are relevant for the realization of arguments: measuring out and delimitedness. The following examples from Tenny (1995b: 41) will serve to illustrate these concepts:
(5.30)  a. Mary ran to the fence.
            b. The five year old bounced downstairs.
            c. Laura hiked to the top of the ridge.
            d. The men sauntered across the street.
            e. The wheelchair racers rolled across the finish line.
            f. The rescue dog swam to the overturned boat
            g. The women canoed to the border.
            h. Erica drove from Colorado to Texas.
In all of these sentences the entity that moves measures out the event through its location. The goal of the movement is the one that delimits the motion event. Tenny postulates two constraints that ensure that the argument that measures out the event is expressed as a direct internal argument, and that the one delimiting the event will be either a direct or indirect internal argument:
(5.31) Measuring-Out Constraint on Direct Internal Arguments (11):
a. The direct internal argument of a simple verb is constrained so that it undergoes no necessary internal motion or change, unless it is motion or change which ‘measures out the event’ over time (where ‘measuring out’ entails that the direct argument plays a particular role in delimiting the event).
b. Direct internal arguments are the only overt arguments which can ‘measure out the event’.
c. There can be no more than one measuring out for any event described by a verb.
(5.32) The Terminus Constraint on Indirect Internal Arguments (68):
a. An indirect internal argument can only participate in aspectual structure by providing a terminus for the event described by the verb. The terminus causes the event to be delimited.
b. If the event has a terminus, it also has a path, either implicit or overt.
c. An event as described by a verb can only have one terminus.
Thus, according to Tenny, the arguments that are prototypical direct objects are those that measure out an event. With regards to the argument that will be selected as external argument (usually, the subject), Tenny’s theory does not have much to say, excepting the following constraint:
(5.33) The Non-Measuring Constraint on External Arguments:
An external argument cannot participate in measuring out or delimiting the event described by a verb. An external argument cannot be a measure, a path or a terminus.
In the sentences above, then, the arguments that refer to the entities that move must be internal arguments of their respective verbs, even though they show up as surface subjects. If the motion verbs in those sentences had appeared in their most basic sense, with no goal arguments, then there would be no terminus, or delimiting element, and the remaining argument could not carry out the measuring-out. In that case they would have to be realized as external arguments. This prediction is in agreement with the findings reported in the Unaccusative Hypothesis literature by which verbs of manner of motion are unergative verbs in their basic non-directed, atelic sense, and unaccusative verbs when they appear with a directional phrase that makes them telic (cf. Levin 1993: 105-06, for the appropriate references). In spite of this, Levin and Rappaport Hovav (1995) have cast doubts on whether aspectual notions are semantic determinants of unaccusativity.
A more serious challenge to Tenny’s ideas has been posed by Jackendoff (1996b), who questions whether aspectual notions play a role in argument expression at all. Instead, Jackendoff suggests that it is affectedness, rather than measuring out, the determining notion in the realization of an argument as direct object. Affectedness is very similar to the semantic criteria used to select objects in the causal approach, to be treated in the following section.

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ISSN: 1139-8736
Depósito Legal: B-48039-2000