Re: aktionsart and aspect

From: Micheal Palmer (
Date: Thu May 08 1997 - 00:24:13 EDT

At 9:53 AM -0400 5/5/97, Mari Broman Olsen wrote:
>Aktionsart is generally used to refer to what I call 'lexical aspect':
> the inherent properties of the verb that indicate how it unfolds
>through time (state vs. event, punctiliar vs. durative, and bounded or
>not). Grammatical aspect is used for imperfective vs. perfective
>oppositions, which can interact with lexical aspect, yielding similar
>meanings. Aspect is used as a cover term to both. I try to constrain
>how they interact in my account.

Part of the problem is that the term 'Aktionsart' is not used consistently
in the linguistics literature. For some linguists it is equivalent to
'lexical aspect' (I must say, though, that I don't see the point of having
two technical terms which mean exactly the same thing. It happens all the
time in informal language, but in technical language it's a liability).
Others, though, distinguish the two terms in a variety of ways. The one I
mentioned yesterday is one example.

In any event. 'Aktionsart' and 'Aspect' are not synonymous even in Mari's
definition, since she sees 'Aktionsart' as equivalent to only one type of

Micheal W. Palmer
Religion & Philosophy
Meredith College

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