This thesis investigates verbal and prepositional representations of change under a non-localistic analysis based on the mereology of events, i.e., a system of aspect that uses event parts as primitives in lieu of path parts. Localistic analyses, developed from motional concepts (e.g., Verkuyl 1993, Asher & Sablayrolles 1994), do not extend to non-motional data (e.g., changes of state or possession) except via metaphor, thereby bypassing essential generalizations about change.
It is argued that, instead of modeling change after the tripartite source-route-goal divisions of a spatial path, the various combinations of two eventive primitives - distinguished point and distinguished process - are sufficient and necessary in accounting for abstract and concrete data, including the four aspectual verb classes of states, activities, achievements and accomplishments (Vendler 1967). The medial lexical specification, route, is shown to be unnecessary, being an epiphenomenon of two distinguished points interacting, or inferable through pragmatic considerations. This is shown by examples from English and French.
Event mereology unifies concrete with abstract change under a single system of features for verbs (e.g., arrive and inherit), prepositions, and their associated phrases (in the house and in debt). Underspecification and complementation further economize the lexical representations while accounting for cases of semantic ambiguity. Such issues as homogeneity in states/processes, resultatives, aspectual verbs (continue, stop), agentivity, and the effects of aspectual coercion by English aspectual morphemes (-ed, -ing) are examined and re-formulated where necessary.
The event-mereological approach is demonstrated to be compatible with various current syntactic analyses, and one such analysis (Travis 1999) is investigated in detail. Event mereology is also shown to extend to more complex aspectual patterns observed of serial verb constructions in Èdó (Stewart 1998).