Interpretation of Verb Phrase Telicity: Sensitivity to Verb Type and Determiner Type Purpose The authors examine how adults use linguistic information from verbs, direct objects, and particles to interpret an event description as encoding a logical endpoint to the event described (in which case, it is telic) or not (in which case, it is atelic). Current models of aspectual composition predict that ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2014
Interpretation of Verb Phrase Telicity: Sensitivity to Verb Type and Determiner Type
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Diane A. Ogiela
    Michigan State University, East Lansing
  • Cristina Schmitt
    Michigan State University, East Lansing
  • Michael W. Casby
    Michigan State University, East Lansing
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Diane A. Ogiela is now at Idaho State University, Meridian.
    Diane A. Ogiela is now at Idaho State University, Meridian.×
  • Correspondence to Diane A. Ogiela: ogiedian@isu.edu
  • Editor: Janna Oetting
    Editor: Janna Oetting×
  • Associate Editor: Nina Capone Singleton
    Associate Editor: Nina Capone Singleton×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2014
Interpretation of Verb Phrase Telicity: Sensitivity to Verb Type and Determiner Type
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2014, Vol. 57, 865-875. doi:10.1044/2013_JSLHR-L-12-0271
History: Received August 29, 2012 , Revised March 20, 2013 , Accepted August 16, 2013
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2014, Vol. 57, 865-875. doi:10.1044/2013_JSLHR-L-12-0271
History: Received August 29, 2012; Revised March 20, 2013; Accepted August 16, 2013

Purpose The authors examine how adults use linguistic information from verbs, direct objects, and particles to interpret an event description as encoding a logical endpoint to the event described (in which case, it is telic) or not (in which case, it is atelic). Current models of aspectual composition predict that quantity-sensitive verbs combined with quantized objects produce telic predicates. Behavioral results from previous experiments have not unequivocally confirmed this prediction. The study presents a more fine-grained analysis that examines the influence of partitive verbs, resultative particles, and different determiner types on listeners' evaluations of verb phrases as telic or atelic.

Method Forty-eight English-speaking adults participated in a truth-value judgment task to determine whether they interpreted verb phrases with different types of verbs and direct objects as telic or atelic. Participants viewed short videos and responded to a yes/no question after each one.

Results The presence of partitive quantity-sensitive verbs and the presence of a definite determiner versus a cardinal number in quantized direct objects had a differential impact on listeners' interpretations of sentences as telic.

Conclusion The results indicate that actual behavioral interpretations of telicity are meaningfully influenced by the presence of partitive verbs, resultative particles, and different types of determiners.

Acknowledgment
The research in this article was supported in part by a New Century Scholar's Award from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation and a Michigan State University Dissertation Completion Grant, both awarded to the first author. We extend our gratitude to everyone who assisted in the completion of this work, especially Alan Munn, Ida Stockman, Johanna Boult, and Mary Jo Cooley Hidecker, for their input and support throughout the project; Angeliek van Hout for fruitful discussions on telicity; John Ader, Derrick Boult, Gregory Robinson, Andrew Sanford, and the student actors for their assistance creating the experimental stimuli; Katerina French, Joe Jalbert, and Jamie Ludin for their help in data collection; Baillie Messervy and Jeni Montzka for assessing reliability; Randy Fotiu, Sandra Herman, and Rick Tivis for statistical consulting; Christine Dollaghan, Laurence Leonard, Mandy Maguire, Peter Flipsen, and Jeanne Johnson for feedback at various stages of manuscript development; and Kimberli Shaner for assistance with manuscript preparation.
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