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Workshop on Scalar Meaning

Paths and Scalar Change
Mark Gawron, San Diego State University

May 19, 2006
University of Chicago

Consider sentences like:

(1a) The fog (gradually) extended from the pier to the point.
(1b) The crack (gradually) widened from the North tower to the gate.

Both sentences in (1), without gradually, are ambiguous between an event readings and what I call an extent reading. On the event reading of (1a) the fog beginning in the vicinity of the pier moves pointwards; on the extent reading the mass of fog sits over the entire region between pier and point. Similarly there is a reading of (1b) describing a crack widening event as well as a reading describing the dimensions of the crack, increasing in width along an axis extending from the north tower to the gate. The analysis of such cases presented in Gawron (2006) accounts for both readings using the kind of state-functions assumed for degree achievements in Hay et al (1999). Events readings exploit functions from times to degrees, extent readings functions from points in space to degrees. This paper extends the account to accommodate aspectual variation within extent readings. For example, with gradually, (1a) no longer has an extent reading but (1b) still does. It is argued that some state functions with path components (1a) are best analyzed as functions to locations rather than to degrees. The account of verbs of gradual change is therefore generalized allow functions with mereological ranges.

Longer version of the abstract