How Telicity Creates Time



aspect, telicity


Most treatments of temporal semantics start out from the conception of time as a line stretching from the past into the future, which is then populated with eventualities or situations. This paper explores how time can be seen as emerging from the construction of representations of reality in which the basic building blocks are static--i.e., timeless--representations which are connected to each other by events that are transitions between them and that create an ordering which can be understood as temporal. This connects to von Wright's "logic of change" and the "hybrid semantics" suggested by Herweg and Löbner. In this context, telicity is seen as the capacity of events, or of the predicates that express them, to "create time" in the sense of defining a before and an after. The basic elements of the model are global states, which are timeless taken in isolation but are connected by transition events, which transform one global state into another and thereby define the temporal relationships between them. Transition events, corresponding to Vandlerian achievements, represent simple changes which are then the basis for all other constructs in the model, most notably delimited states, Vendlerian activities (atelic dynamic eventualities), and accomplishments (telic non-punctual eventualities), but also time points and intervals. Transition events are further instrumental in constructing narrative structures and are responsible for narrative progression.




How to Cite

Dahl, Östen. “How Telicity Creates Time”. Journal of Slavic Linguistics, vol. 21, no. 1, Apr. 2013, pp. 45-76,