The progressive and verbs of creation

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This article investigates what ontological commitments are carried by certain sentences in the progressive. I focus specifically on telic sentences in the progressive with verbs of creation. First, I argue against prominent extensionalist analyses given by Parsons and Szabó. Next, I develop and defend a competing intensional analysis. This analysis captures apparent intensional phenomena with certain sentences in the progressive while maintaining an extensionalist analysis of the progressive itself. I distinguish three features of the meanings of sentences like ‘Alice was baking a cake’: first, the perspective taken on the event contributed by the progressive aspect; second, the intensionality in the interpretation of the verb's internal argument; and third, the telicity and modality manifest at the level of the verb phrase and sentence. The proposed account of the progressive and verbs of creation raises interesting broader questions concerning our conceptualizations of change and how, and to what extent, they are represented in the grammars of natural languages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19–48
JournalJournal of Semantics
Issue number1
Early online date13 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


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