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States and temporal interpretation in Capeverdean

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Abstract

One known puzzle in Creole systems is that temporal interpretation seems to be constrained by stativity (Bickerton 1974). For decades, the relevant division has been, roughly: bare stative verbs mean present, bare nonstatives mean past. In Capeverdean, a Portuguese-based Creole, we do indeed have: <i>N sabe risposta</i> &#8220;I know the answer&#8221;, <i>N kume pexe</i> &#8220;I ate fish&#8221;. The above generalization, however, is inaccurate: most Capeverdean statives pattern with nonstatives in this respect. Crucially, also <i>sabe</i> &#8220;know&#8221; may pattern with nonstatives, challenging further this traditional view. In this paper I argue that the distinct temporal readings above can only be explained via the internal structure of events. A Become subevent (Dowty 1979) accounts for <i>N sabe risposta</i> &#8211; &#8220;I got to know the answer&#8221;, with its consequent state (Moens &#38; Steedman 1988) being &#8220;[now] I know.&#8221; In contrast, there is no consequent state as &#8220;I eat fish&#8221; for &#8220;I ate fish&#8221; (cf. &#8220;I&#8217;ve eaten.&#8221;).

References

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