Re: Aktionsart vs. Aspect

From: Micheal Palmer (
Date: Thu May 08 1997 - 00:24:27 EDT

At 11:45 AM -0800 5/5/97, Don Wilkins wrote:
>It's fun watching you guys trying to nail grammatical jello to a tree. The
>possible differences between Aktionsart (German for "kind of action") and
>aspect (Latin for "look at") probably depend upon whom one asks. . . .

Although I know we should be careful to avoid the etymological fallacy, I
do think the etymologies that Don gives here are instructive. The older
meaning of 'Aktionsart'--the meaning found in the traditional Greek
grammars--is informed very much by the German meaning: "kind of action" and
is not directly tied to what linguists today call 'lexical aspect.' The
later aspect discussions are much more concerned with the way an author (or
speaker) chooses to view or especially *portray* an action, as the Latin
origin of 'aspect' would imply.

Micheal W. Palmer
Religion & Philosophy
Meredith College

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