Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 151–196 | Cite as

Intensionality, high applicatives, and aspect: involuntary state constructions in Bulgarian and Slovenian

Original Paper


This paper discusses Bulgarian and Slovenian constructions with a dispositional reading and no apparent dispositional marker, such as Bulgarian Na Ivan mu se raboteše. Such a sentence combines a dative logical subject Ivan with an inflected verb raboteše ‘work’, and roughly corresponds to ‘Ivan was in a working mood’, so does not entail that Ivan worked. I argue that such constructions consist of two core ingredients that account both for their syntactic properties, and for their modal flavor as dispositions. One ingredient is an Imperfective Operator in Viewpoint Aspect as the source of modality. Such an Operator resembles in syntactic and semantic properties both the Progressive Operator in so-called English Futurates such as For two weeks, the Red Sox were playing the Yankees today, and the Spanish modal Imperfecto. The other ingredient is a High Applicative Phrase with an oblique subject, which, other than determining syntactic properties, contributes to a difference in modal flavor with English Futurates. English Futurates denote plans, and a hypothesis is that this is due to their nominative subjects being paired to a presupposition giving them control over the intended event. By contrast, the Slavic constructions in this paper denote dispositions, not plans, because their oblique subjects cannot be paired with a similar presupposition.


Bulgarian Slovenian Applicatives Aspect Viewpoint Modality 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Benedicto, Elena. 1995. Mne ne citaetsja: (Relativized) modality, datives and reflexive suffixes. Penn Working Papers in Linguistics 2(2): 1–16. Google Scholar
  2. Bhaskarao, Peri, and Karumuri Venkata Subbarao, eds. 2004. Non-nominative subjects. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Google Scholar
  3. Borer, Hagit. 2005. Structuring sense. Vol. 2 of The normal course of events. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  4. Borik, Olga. 2006. Aspect and reference time. New York: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  5. Cinque, Guglielmo. 1999. Adverbs and functional heads. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  6. Cipria, Alicia, and Craige Roberts. 2000. Spanish imperfecto and pretérito: Truth conditions and Aktionsart effects in a situation semantics. Natural Language Semantics 8: 297–347. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Comrie, Bernard. 1976. Aspect. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
  8. Copley, Bridget. 2002. The semantics of the future. PhD dissertation, MIT. Google Scholar
  9. Cresswell, Max John. 1975. Hyperintensional logic. Studia Logica 34: 25–38. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Csirmaz, Aniko. 2006. Aspect, negation and quantifiers. In Event structure and the left periphery, ed. Katalin E. Kiss, 225–254. Berlin: Springer. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cuervo, María Cristina. 2003. Datives at large. PhD dissertation, MIT. Google Scholar
  12. De Swart, Henriette. 1998. Aspect shift and coercion. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 16: 347–385. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Declerck, Renaat. 1979. Aspect and the bounded/unbounded (telic/atelic) distinction. Linguistics 17: 761–94. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Depraetere, Ilse. 1995. On the necessity of distinguishing between (un) boundedness and (A) telicity. Linguistics and Philosophy 18: 1–19. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. den Dikken, Marcel, Richard Larson, and Peter Ludlow. 1996. Intensional transitive verbs and Concealed Complement Clauses. Rivista di Linguistica 8: 29–46. Google Scholar
  16. Dimitrova-Vulchanova, Mila. 1996. Verb semantics, diathesis, and aspect. PhD dissertation, The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim Google Scholar
  17. Dimitrova-Vulchanova, Mila, and Giuliana Giusti. 1998. Possessors in the Bulgarian DP. In Topics in South Slavic syntax and semantics, eds. Mila Dimitrova-Vulchanova and Lars Hellan, 163–192. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Google Scholar
  18. Dowty, David R. 1977. Toward a semantic analysis of verb aspect and the English imperfective paradox. Linguistics and Philosophy 1: 45–78. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dowty, David R. 1979. Word meaning and Montague Grammar. Dordrecht: Reidel. Google Scholar
  20. Ernst, Thomas. 2002. The syntax of adjuncts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
  21. Filip, Hanna. 2000. The quantization puzzle. In Events as grammatical objects, eds. James Pustejovsky and Carol Tenny, 3–60. Stanford: CSLI. Google Scholar
  22. Filip, Hanna. 2003. Prefixes and the delimitation of events. Journal of Slavic Linguistics 11: 55–101. Google Scholar
  23. Filip, Hanna. 2005. On accumulating and having it all. In Perspectives on aspect, eds. Henk Verkuyl, Henriette de Swart, and A. Van Hout, 125–148. Berlin: Springer. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Franks, Steven. 1995. Parameters of Slavic morphosyntax. New York: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  25. Giorgi, Alexandra, and Fabio Pianesi. 1997. Tense and aspect. New York: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  26. Iatridou, Sabine, Elena Anagnastopoulou, and Roumyana Izvorski. 2001. Observations about the form and meaning of the perfect. In Ken Hale: A life in language, ed. Michael Kenstowicz, 189–238. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  27. Istratkova, Viara. 2004. On multiple prefixation in Bulgarian. Nordlyd 32(2): 301–321. Google Scholar
  28. Kallulli, Dalina. 2006. Unaccusatives with dative causers and experiencers: A unified account. In Datives and other cases, eds. Daniel Hole, André Meinunger, and Werner Abraham, 271–301. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Google Scholar
  29. Kallulli, Dalina. 2007. Rethinking the passive/anticausative distinction. Linguistic Inquiry 38: 770–780. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kamp, Hans, and Uwe Reyle. 1993. From discourse to logic. London: Kluwer. Google Scholar
  31. Krapova, Iliyana. 1998. The system of auxiliaries in Bulgarian. In Topics in South Slavic syntax and semantics, eds. Mila Dimitrova-Vulchanova and Lars Hellan, 59–90. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Google Scholar
  32. Krapova, Iliyana. 2001. Subjunctives in Bulgarian and Modern Greek. In Comparative syntax of Balkan languages, eds. María-Luisa Rivero and Angela Ralli, 105–126. New York: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  33. Kratzer, Angelika. 1981. The notional category of modality. In Words, worlds, and contexts, eds. Hans-Jürgen Niekmeyer and Hannes Rieser, 38–74. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. Google Scholar
  34. Kratzer, Angelika. 1991. Modality. In Semantics: An international handbook of contemporary research, eds. Arnim von Stechow and Dieter Wunderlich, 639–650. New York: Walter de Gruyter. Google Scholar
  35. Kratzer, Angelika. 1996. Severing the external argument from its verb. In Phrase structure and the lexicon, eds. Johan Rooryck and Laurie Zaring, 109–138. Dordrecht: Kluwer. Google Scholar
  36. Landman, Fred. 1992. The progressive. Natural Language Semantics 1: 1–32. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Larson, Richard. 2002. The grammar of intensionality. In Logical Form and language, eds. Gerhard Preyer and Georg Peter, 228–262. New York: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  38. Maienborn, Claudia. 2001. On the position and interpretation of Locative modifiers. Natural Language Semantics 9: 191–240. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Marantz, Alec. 1993. Implications of asymmetries in double object constructions. In Theoretical aspects of Bantu grammar, ed. Sam Mchombo, 113–150. Stanford: CSLI. Google Scholar
  40. Marušič, Franc, and Rok Žaucer. 2004. A reanalysis of the Slovenian dative-reflexive construction. Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics 12: 293–312. Google Scholar
  41. Marušič, Franc, and Rok Žaucer. 2006. On the intensional FEEL-LIKE construction in Slovenian: A case of a phonologically null verb. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 24: 1093–1159. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Portner, Paul. 1998. The progressive in modal semantics. Language 74: 760–788. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Pylkkänen, Liina. 2002. Introducing arguments. PhD dissertation, MIT. Google Scholar
  44. Rivero, María-Luisa. 1992. Adverb incorporation and the syntax of adverbs in Modern Greek. Linguistics and Philosophy 15: 289–331. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rivero, María-Luisa. 1994. Clause structure and V-movement in the languages of the Balkans. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 12: 63–120. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Rivero, María-Luisa. 2003. Reflexive clitic constructions with datives: syntax and semantics. Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics 11: 469–494. Google Scholar
  47. Rivero, María-Luisa. 2004. Datives and the non-active voice/reflexive clitics in Balkan languages. In Balkan syntax and semantics, ed. Olga M. Tomić, 237–267. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Google Scholar
  48. Rivero, María-Luisa. 2005. Topics in Bulgarian morphology and syntax. Lingua 115(8): 1083–1128. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rivero, María-Luisa, and Milena Milojević Sheppard. 2003. Indefinite reflexive clitics in Slavic: Polish and Slovenian. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 21: 89–155. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Rivero, María-Luisa, and Milena Milojević Sheppard. 2008. Revisiting involuntary state constructions in Slovenian. In Studies in formal slavic linguistics: contributions from FDSL 6.5 conference (formal description of Slavic languages conference 6.5), eds. Franc Marušič and Rok Žaucer, 273–288. Frankfurt: Peter Lang. Google Scholar
  51. Scatton, Ernest. 1984. A reference grammar of Modern Bulgarian. Columbus: Slavica. Google Scholar
  52. Sedighi, Anousha. 2007. Agreement restrictions in Persian. Amsterdam: Rozenberg. Google Scholar
  53. Siloni, Tali. 1997. Noun phrases and nominalizations: The syntax of DPs. Dordrecht: Kluwer. Google Scholar
  54. Slabakova, Roumyana. 2005. Perfective prefixes: What they are, what flavors they come in, and how they are acquired. Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics 13: 324–341. Google Scholar
  55. Slovar slovenskega knjižnega jezika. (SSKJ) 1970–1991. [Dictionary of the Slovenian Language]. Ljubljana: Državna založbe Slovenije. Google Scholar
  56. Smith, Carlota S. 1991. The parameter of aspect. Dordrecht: Kluwer. Google Scholar
  57. Stowell, Tim. 1981. Origins of phrase structure. PhD Dissertation. MIT. Google Scholar
  58. Stowell, Tim. 1982. The tense of infinitives. Linguistic Inquiry 19: 561–570. Google Scholar
  59. Svenonius, Peter. 2002. Subject positions and the placement of adverbials. In Subject, expletives, and the EPP, ed. Peter Svenonius, 201–242. New York: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  60. Svenonius, Peter. 2005. Slavic prefixes inside and outside VP. In Nordlyd 32.2: Special issue on Slavic prefixes, ed. Peter Svenonius, 205–253. Tromsø: CASTL. Google Scholar
  61. Tenny, Carol. 2000. Core events and adverbial modification. In Events as grammatical objects, eds. Carol Tenny and James Pustejovsky, 285–334. Stanford: CSLI. Google Scholar
  62. Tilkov, Dimitar, Stojan Stojanov, and Konstantin Popov. 1982–1983. Gramatica na savremennija balgarski knižoven ezik. Vols. 1–3. Sofia: Bulgarska Akademija na Naukite. Google Scholar
  63. Travis, Lisa. 2000. Event structure in syntax. In Events as grammatical objects, eds. Carol Tenny and James Pustejovsky, 145–185. Stanford: CSLI. Google Scholar
  64. Travis, Lisa. 2003. Lexical items and zero morphology. In Proceedings of the 6th generative approaches to second language acquisition conference (GASLA 2002), eds. Juana M. Liceras, Helen Goodluck, and Helmut Zobl, 315–330. Somerville: Cascadilla. Google Scholar
  65. Travis, Lisa de Mena. 2008. Inner aspect. The articulation of VP. Manuscript, McGill University. Google Scholar
  66. Verkuyl, Henk, J. 1993. A theory of aspectuality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
  67. Verkuyl, Henk, J. 1998. Tense, aspect, and aspectual composition. In Topics in South Slavic syntax and semantics, eds. Mila Dimitrova-Vulchanova and Lars Hellan, 125–162. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Google Scholar
  68. Verma, Manindra, K. and K.P. Mohanan, eds. 1991. Experiencer subjects in South Asian languages. Stanford: CSLI. Google Scholar
  69. von Fintel, Kai, and Irene Heim. 2007. Intensional semantics lecture notes. Accessed 17 October 2008.
  70. Wiltschko, Martina. 2003. On the interpretability of tense on D and its consequences for case theory. Lingua 113: 659–696. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Zucchi, Sandro. 1999. Incomplete events, intensionality, and imperfective aspect. Natural Language Semantics 7: 179–215. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

Personalised recommendations