This week’s syntax-semantics meeting will take place on Friday, March 31st at 12pm in room 117. Terrance, Willie and Katya will be presenting ongoing work, “Lexical Aspect and the Stative Present in Kanien’kéha'”.
Abstract: Kanien’kéha (aka Mohawk; Iroquoian) lacks a dedicated form for expressing the present reading of verbs (often translated as the present progressive in English). Instead, it uses one of two aspectual forms, the Habitual or the Stative, depending on the verb. In past work based on related Seneca and Onondaga, Chafe (1980) suggests that the relevant property determining the distribution of the present reading is the “consequentiality” of the verb. For Chafe, consequential verbs express the present meaning using Habitual forms, while non-consequential verbs use Stative forms. In this talk, we extend the notion of “consequentiality” to Kanien’kéha and formalize its implications within the event structure of the verb. Namely, we suggest that the difference between the two groups of verbs lies in the presence or absence of a transition into a resultant eventuality. We show that besides capturing the main contrast, our proposal also allows us to explain the distribution of the present readings for other subclasses of verbs such as `change-of-state’ stative verbs and verbs with incorporated nouns.