Expectations shaping grammar: searching for the link between tense-aspect and negation

Project leader

Funding source

Swedish Research Council - Vetenskapsrådet (VR)

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2017
End date: 31/12/2019
Funding: 2850000 SEK


This project is grounded in two domains: tense-aspect (TA) distinctions
under negation and the incorporation of speakers’ expectations into
grammatical structure. In the literature, it is often noted that TA
distinctions under negation may be (i) restricted to that domain; (ii)
fewer than those under affirmation. In order to open up for the
systematic study of these issues, here I focus on a distinction which is
cross-linguistically common but has so far been neglected.
Specifically, in many languages there is a distinction between the plain
negation of a situation and the negation of a situation with
expectation for its realization. In most languages of Europe this
distinction is optional. In many other languages of the world, the
distinction based on presence or absence of speaker’s expectations for
the occurrence of a non-realized situation has a categorical status.
That is, it has to be expressed, just as temporal reference has to be
expressed for verbs in Swedish by means of different tenses. The term not-yet gram refers
to the grammatical encoding of speaker’s expectations for the
realization of a non-realized event. My goal is to gain a better
understanding of the spread, functions and evolution of this phenomenon
in human languages. This work highlights the role of pragmatics in the
shaping of grammar in a very direct way. It is also the first step in
the development of a methodology for the study of asymmetries between TA
systems under affirmation and under negation.

Last updated on 2017-04-10 at 11:47