The inference of temporal persistence and the individual/stage level distinction

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In this paper we propose that the differences between ser ‘beSER’ and estar‘beESTAR’ predications traditionally associated with the individual-level/stagelevel(IL/SL) distinction (having to do with their differing combinations withadverbs quantifying over situations, locative and temporal modifiers, etc.) canbe explained without arguing that ser ‘beSER’ and estar ‘beESTAR’ sentences havedifferent event/aspect/Aktionsart-related properties. Specifically, we claim thatin copular sentences with adjectival complements, the different kinds of elementsthat build up the comparison class needed to evaluate adjectival propertiescan account for the IL/SL character of the predication and that, specifically,the IL/SL distinction is linked to the relative/absolute distinction. This proposal,together with the hypothesis that relative adjectives trigger by default an inferenceof temporal persistence, can account for all the aforementioned differencesbetween ser ‘beSER’ and estar ‘beESTAR’ sentences. We thus argue for an extensionof the explanatory value of the individual/stage-level distinction to the domainof gradability.


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