The Proper Treatment of Events / Edition 1

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The Proper Treatment of Events offers a novel approach to the semantics of tense and aspect motivated by cognitive considerations.

  • offers a new theory of the semantics of tense aspect and nominalizations that combines formal semantics and cognitive approaches
  • written accessibly for students and scholars in theoretical linguists, as well as in philosophy of language, logic, cognitive science, and computer science
  • accompanied by a website at ( that provides slides for instructors and background material for students
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" essential book for linguistics students and researchers interested in the latest trends."
The Linguist List

“This book presents a highly innovative approach to the semantics of natural language. The authors manage with admirable ease to draw together insights from different fields and show how their theory can actually explain facts rather than simply assuming them. This is not a trivial achievement: to derive even the most simple sounding conclusion requires a lot of effort. This book is a truly intellectual book, written with love for the subject. I consider it a must for everyone who is interested in events or natural language semantics in general.” The Bulletin of Symbolic Logic

“This fine book is a welcome addition to the Explorations in Semantics series. The coverage of the very complex literature in the area is very good. Content, style, and presentation are all excellent, and tutorial exercises of the kind appropriate for use as a basis for a graduate seminar are included.”
Mark Steedman, University of Edinburgh

“This elegant book redefines the traditional study of temporal reasoning. Merging insights from cognitive science, computer science, and linguistics, the authors propose an event calculus for natural language that is computationally tractable and logically appealing. This original synthesis of AI and linguistic semantics feels like a natural fit from the start.”
Johan van Benthem, University of Amsterdam and StanfordUniversity

“This volume helps to bring the study of tense and aspect, and the correlative study of events in linguistic semantics, within the purview of algorithmic conceptions of meaning, and other notions derived from abstract computer science. It will be an important companion to classical logical and syntactic studies, contributing to what we may hope will be an eventual unification of the computational and classical viewpoints.”
James Higginbotham, University of Southern California

"Michiel van Lambalgen and Fritz Hamm have written a magnificent book on semantics of temporal discourse in natural languages... Their book introduces and applies an important new tool of philosophical analysis, and thus should be available in any good, analytically oriented philosophical library."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405112130
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 1/28/2005
  • Series: Explorations in Semantics Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Michiel van Lambalgen is Professor of Logic and Cognitive Science at the University of Amsterdam.

Fritz Hamm is Assistant Professor of General Linguistics at the University of Tübingen.

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Table of Contents



Part I: Time, events and cognition.

Chapter 1: Time.

Psychology of time.

Why do we have the experience of time at all?.

Chapter 2: Events and time.

The analogy between events and objects.

The Russell-Kamp construction of time from events.

Walker’s construction.

Richer languages for events.

Some linguistic applications.

**Continuous time from events.


Chapter 3: Language, time and planning.

Part II: The formal apparatus.

Chapter 4: Events formalized.

A calculus of events.

The axiom system EC.


Minimal models.

Chapter 5: Computing with time and events.

Logic programming with constraints.

Minimal models revisited.

How to get to the other side of a street.

**When do causes take effect?.

Exercises for chapters 4 and 5.

Da capo, with feeling.

Chapter 6: Finishing touches.

Coding VPs as fluents and events.

Consistency, truth and partiality.

Part III: A marriage made in heaven – linguistics and robotics.

Chapter 7: Aktionsart.


Formal definition of Aktionsarten.

Perfective and imperfective eventualities.

Chapter 8: Tense.

Reichenbach’s reference time R.

Event time and the sentence.

Present tense.

Past tense.

Future tense.


Chapter 9: Tense in French: Passé Simple and Imparfait.



Formalizing the Passé Simple and Imparfait.



Chapter 10: Grammatical aspect.

The perfect.

The progressive.

**A computational proof.

Comments on the literature.


Chapter 11: Coercion.

Additive coercion.

Subtractive coercion.


Temporal adverbials: ‘in’ and ‘for’.

Coercion and intensionality.


Chapter 12: Nominalization.

Two types of English Gerunds.

History of the English gerundive system.

Nominalizations formalized I: Denotation types.

Nominalizations formalized II: Lexical meaning.

Chapter 13: Appendix: the basics of logic programming.

Logic programming for propositional logic.

Logic programming for predicate logic.



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