Semantics and pragmatics of temporal sequencing

Maziar Toosarvandani (University of California, Santa Cruz, USA)

Discourses mean more than just the sentences they are composed of. A sequence of past tense sentences can, for instance, be interpreted as forward moving in time (narrative progression) or as backshifted.

This course will explore the source of these temporal inferences: Are they conventionalized, or do they arise from (possibly domain general) principles of conversation? Does narrative progression have the same source as backshifting? Do lexical and grammatical expressions constrain the possibilities for these inferences, and if so how? Over five days, students will be introduced to existing accounts for narrative progression and backshifting, as well as to related phenomena that have not been systematically investigated in the past.

More specifically, the course will cover the basics of temporal and event structure, reference time and discourse coherence theories of narrative progression and backshifting, varied uses of tense and their interaction with these temporal inferences, and the semantic and pragmatic underpinnings of narrative progression.

Course Materials