english DOES have grammaticalized aspect!

From: Mari Broman Olsen (molsen@umiacs.umd.edu)
Date: Mon Mar 17 1997 - 10:15:10 EST

Imperfective is expressed in the BE V-ing forms and perfective in the
HAVE V-ed forms. The reason the meanings (e.g. the conative) do not
match across languages has more to do with the inventory of other
forms available in a language, e.g. English also has unmarked forms
(Carlota Smith's "neutral aspect"), viz. the simple past, present and
the will V future. Also, I wouldn't say that Aktionsart (Smith's
"situation aspect") is objective, but that it is inherently a property
of the verb.

One reason that grammatical aspect and Aktionsart have been confounded
is that they appear to co-vary in Slavic languages, from which, as
Rolf correctly points out, the study (indeed the word, translated from
vid, 'see') of aspect in Greek stems. THat is, in slavic langauges
one adds a prefix (called a perfective prefix) to an imperfective (I
would call it unmarked, since, as Comrie and others, notably Forsyth
1970, point out, it can have perfective meaning in the proper
context). In the prefixed form the interpretation is both perfective
(that is, completed) and bounded (that is, telic Aktionsart). SO one
never gets prefixed perfective verbs that mean 'I have run', but 'I
have run a little bit', etc.

Mari Broman Olsen
Research Associate

University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies
3141 A.V. Williams Building
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

(301) 405-6754 FAX: (301) 314-9658


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