On the limits of the Davidsonian approach : the case of copula sentences
- Since Donald Davidson’s seminal work “The Logical Form of Action Sentences” (1967) event arguments have become an integral component of virtually every semantic theory. Over the past years Davidson´s proposal has been continuously extended such that nowadays event(uality) arguments are generally associated not only with action verbs but with predicates of all sorts. The reasons for such an extension are seldom explicitly justified. Most problematical in this respect is the case of stative expressions. By taking a closer look at copula sentences the present study assesses the legitimacy of stretching the Davidsonian notion of events and discusses its consequences. A careful application of some standard eventuality diagnostics (perception reports, combination with locative modifiers and manner adverbials) as well as some new diagnostics (behavior of certain degree adverbials) reveals that copular expressions do not behave as expected under a Davidsonian perspective: they fail all eventuality tests, regardless of whether they represent stage-level or individual-level predicates. In this respect, copular expressions pattern with stative verbs like know, hate, and resemble, which in turn differ sharply from state verbs like stand, sit, and sleep. The latter pass all of the eventuality tests and therefore qualify as true “Davidsonian state” expressions. On the basis of these empirical observations and taking up ideas of Kim (1969, 1976) and Asher (1993, 2000), an alternative account of copular expressions (and stative verbs) is provided, according to which the copula introduces a referential argument for a temporally bound property exemplification (= “Kimian state”). Considerations on some logical properties, viz. closure conditions and the latent infinite regress of eventualities, suggest that supplementing Davidsonian eventualities with Kimian states may yield not only a more adequate analysis of copula sentences but also a better understanding of eventualities in general.
Review of Regina Pustet : Copulas: universals in the categorization of the lexicon: (Oxford University Press 2003; 262pp)
- The renowned Grimm Dictionary (1854-1961) makes the statement that the German copula sein (to be) is “the most general and colourless of all verbal concepts” (der allgemeinste und farbloseste aller verbalbegriffe). A more concise summary of the linguistic issues surrounding the copula is hardly possible. These two properties (and the latent tension between them!) make copulas a particularly interesting and vexing subject of linguistic research. Copulas appear to be almost colourless, i.e., devoid of any concrete meaning, thus leading to the question of why such expressions exist at all, not only in German but in the majority of the world’s languages. And at the same time copulas presumably provide the best window into the core of verbal concepts thereby telling us what it actually means to be a verb – at least in a language like German or English. While there is a rather rich body of research on copulas in philosophical and formal semantics including several in-depth studies on the copular systems of individual languages, copulas have received comparably little attention from a typological perspective. The monograph of Regina Pustet sets out to fill this gap. She presents an extensive cross-linguistic study of copula usage based on a sample of 154 languages drawn from the language families of the world. The analysis is embedded in the theoretical framework of functional typology. The study aims at uncovering universal principles that govern the distribution of copulas in nominal, adjectival, and verbal predications. Its major objective is the development of a “semantically-based model of copula distribution” (p.62) by means of which the presence vs. absence of copulas can be motivated through the inherent meaning of the lexical items they potentially combine with. Drawing mainly on the work by Givón (1979, 1984) and Croft (1991, 2001), who provide a functional foundation of the traditional parts of speech, Pustet identifies four semantic parameters which, if taken together, are claimed to support substantial generalisations on copula distribution – within a given language as well as crosslinguistically. These parameters are DYNAMICITY, TRANSIENCE, TRANSITIVITY, and DEPENDENCY. Pustet goes on to argue – and this is in fact the driving force behind the overall monograph – that the distributional behaviour of copulas, in turn, yields a useful methodology for developing a general approach to lexical categorization. Thus, in the long run Pustet aims at contributing to a better understanding of the traditional parts of speech, noun, adjective, and verb by defining them in terms of “semantic feature bundles, which can be arranged in [a] coherent semantic similarity space” (p.193).
Algunos apuntes acerca de la cuestión de la "hibridez" y de la "dignidad" de las lenguas iberorrománicas
Vorbemerkung und Einleitung zu "Beredte Körper : bewegte Seelen ; zum Diskurs der doppelten Bewegung in Tanztexten
Bildhafte und andere Gedankensprünge : zweimal „Die schmutzigen Hände“ auf der Bühne
Sestrin-2, a repressor of PDGFRβ signalling, promotes cigarette smoke-
induced pulmonary emphysema in mice and is upregulated in patients
K. C. Kent Lloyd
Harald von Melchner
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. COPD is caused by chronic exposure to cigarette smoke and/or other environmental pollutants that are believed to induce reactive oxygen species (ROS) that gradually disrupt signalling pathways responsible for maintaining lung integrity. Here we identify the antioxidant protein Sestrin 2 (Sesn2) as a repressor of PDGFRβ signalling and PDGFRβ signalling as an upstream regulator of alveolar maintenance programs. In mice, the mutational inactivation of Sesn2 prevents the development of cigarette-smoke induced pulmonary emphysema by upregulating PDGFRβ expression via a selective accumulation of intracellular superoxide anions (O2-). We also show that SESN2 is overexpressed and PDGFRβ downregulated in the emphysematous lungs of patients with COPD and to a lesser extent in human lungs of habitual smokers without COPD, implicating a negative SESN2/PDGFRβ interrelationship in the pathogenesis of COPD. Taken together, our results imply that SESN2 could serve as both a biomarker and as a drug target in the clinical management of COPD.