Adverbs of Change, Aspect, and Underspecification

Todor Koev


Adverbs of change, such as quickly or slowly, are known to give rise to a number of interpretations. For example, Selena ran quickly says that the rate of running is high while Selena quickly noticed the plane implies that the distance between the event of noticing the plane and some previous event is short. Existing accounts (e.g. Cresswell 1978; Rawlins 2013) take rate readings as primary but struggle to derive additional interpretations. By contrast, I argue that adverbs of change measure the temporal distance between two salient events (or event parts) that are compositionally or contextually available. The main claim of the paper is that adverbs of change have a single if underspecified semantics and that the different interpretations arise through interaction with aspectual and discourse structure.

Full Text: