Mental action and event structure in the semantics of 'try'

Thomas Grano


Sharvit (2003) proposes a semantics for 'try' inspired by Landman's (1992) account of progressive aspect. This paper discusses two empirical shortcomings of Sharvit's analysis and proposes a new solution that retains Sharvit's insight that 'try' has an aspectual meaning but argues that (a) as suggested by much work in action theory, volitional events include an initial stage corresponding to a `mental action' and (b) 'try' picks out the 'mental action' stage of an event. The proposal is formalized by adapting Condoravdi's (2009) theory of progressive meaning.


aspect; event structure; action theory; progressive aspect

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