Semantical remarks on the progressive reading of the imperfective

Since there are independent reasons for associating the habitual reading of the imperfective, in Italian, to a logical form based on universal or generic quantification, the purpose of Part I is to see how this kind of semantical structure accounts for another important interpretation of the imperfective: the progressive reading. And since in some particular cases the imperfective can also have a marginal interpretation which can be assimilated to a perfective effect (it is the so-called “narrative” reading), a further problem is how to provide a reasonable explanation for this phenomenon too. If one considers the co-occurrence of the imperfective with different event predicates (in particular, accomplishments and achievements) it is possible to show that, with some minimal assumptions, the theoretical framework under discussion correctly predicts the following facts, which represent a crucial, but puzzling, characteristic of the imperfective in Italian: (i) activities allow for the progressive reading of the imperfective, but not the “narrative” reading; (ii) with achievements we have the opposite situation; (iii) accomplishments are compatible with both these readings. From this point of view, the semantic properties of the progressive reading of the imperfective are quite distinct from those of the perifrasi progressiva, which is the specialized form used in Italian to express the progressive meaning. Part II, which addresses the issue of the intensional character of both forms of the progressive, is more problematic, in the sense that it takes into consideration a possible extension of the theoretical framework presented in Part I. First of all I discuss some examples which clearly show that the perifrasi progressiva calls for some sort of “branching” representation of time, for it crucially refers to future courses of events which are not realized in the real world. On the other hand, since similar examples can be found in the case of the progressive reading of the imperfective, the main problem is represented by the fact that the kind of logical form under discussion is not completely adequate to account for such intensional phenomena..
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