Linguistik-Klassifikation: Grammatikforschung / Grammar research
Recent activity in the theory of aspect : accomplishments, achievements, or just non-progressive state?
- It has become commonplace to introduce works on aspect with the remark that there is hardly another field in linguistics so much plagued by terminological and notional confusion. [..] About 20 major books claiming a comprehensive treatment have come to my attention during little more than the past half decade […]. Among these books are five that form the subject of this paper in a narrower sense, given that the present article originally started out as a combined review of these five works: […] Even if one is not at all keen on monocultures, it is clear that the obvious disunity in fundamental points of view makes the situation increasingly difficult for the "ordinary working linguist". It is getting impossible to keep up with the many different issues raised in the theoretical literature when, for instance, writing a chapter on aspect for a descriptive grammar of a language. As a result, a tremendous gap between descriptive and theoretical work has arisen. This has not gone unnoticed in the literature. There are several recent publications in which explicit attempts are made to bridge this gap […], all of them trying to add a typological perspective to aspect theory and to free it from its purely truth-conditional embedding, which was the dominant paradigm in the 70ies and 80ies. But again, these works are often themselves cast into specific theoretical frameworks, more often than not ignoring other approaches to the field if they do not fit their persuasions. I will therefore avail myself of the opportunity of this review article by briefly sorting out the differences in the fundamental assumptions and theoretical primitives of the various approaches, in order to come to grips with the aspectological landscape. A general, chiefly historically oriented assessment is presented in the first part of this paper (see section 1). The second part is then devoted to a detailed discussion of the books under review against the background etablished in this survey (see section 2). At the end, I will try to draw some conclusions and hint at some directions for future work with aspect in a descriptive and/or typological context (see section 3).
Secondary Predication and Aspectual Structure
- This paper presents an analysis of secondary predicates as aspectual modifiers and secondary predication as a summing operation which sums the denotation of the matrix verb and the secondary predicate. I argue that, as opposed to the summing peration involved in simple conjunction, there is a constraint on secondary predication; in the 0 case of depictives, the event introduced by the matrix verb must be PART-OF the event introduced by the secondary predicate, where e1 is PART-OF e2 if the running time of e1 is contained in the running time of e2 and if e1 and e2 share a grammatical argument. I argue resultative predication differs from depictive predication in that the PART-OF constraint holds in resultative constructions between the event which is the culmination of e1 and e2: formally, while depictive predication introduces the statement PART-OF(e1,e2), resultative predication introduces the statement PART-OF(cul(e1),e2). I show that this is all that is necessary to explain the well-known properties of resultative predication.
Acquisition of aspect
Does the acquisition of aspect have anything to do with aspectual pairs?
- The purpose of this research was to trace the developmental steps in the acquisition of aspectual oppositions in Russian and to examine the validity of the 'aspect before tense' hypothesis for L1-speaking children. Imperfective/perfective verbs and their inflections, as well as aspectual pairs, were analysed in the first five months of verb production (and the respective months in the input) in three children. Additionally, the first four months of verb production were investigated in one boy with less data. Verb forms marked for the past and for the present occur simultaneously in all children. These early forms relate to 'here and now' situations: verbs marked for the past denote 'resultative' events that are perceived by the children as occurring during the speech time or immediately before it, while verbs marked for the present typically denote on-going events. Thus, with early tense oppositions (or tense morphology) children mark aspectual contrasts in the moment of speech: evidence in favour of the 'aspect before tense' hypothesis.
A strong preference in using the perfective aspect for the past and the imperfective aspect for the present events has been found in both adults and children. Further, only very few aspectual pairs were documented within the analysed period (from the onset of verb production to the period when children produce rule-driven inflectional forms). The productive use of the finite forms of perfective and imperfective verbs doesn't concord with the ability of the productive use of the contrastive forms of one lemma. Data suggest that children (start to) learn aspectual forms in an item-based manner. The acquisition of aspectual oppositions (aspectual pairs) is lexically dependent and is guided by the contextual 'thesaurus'. Aspectual pairs are learned in a peace-meal way during much longer, than observed for this article, period of time. Generally, aspect is not learned as a rule, also because there are no (uniform) rules of forming of aspectual pairs, but as the 'satellite' of the inherent lexical meaning of verbs of diverse Aktionsarten.
The issues addressed here are relevant for other Slavic languages, exhibiting the morphological category of aspect.