semantics vs. pragmatics

From: Mari Broman Olsen (
Date: Thu Aug 07 1997 - 16:31:07 EDT

Rolf Furuli writes:

"So I urge everybody to a strict differentiation between pragmatics and
semantics when working on the "objective" plane of events and states,
but to think abstract when it comes to aspect, and not only agreeing
that aspect is not Aktionsart but also practicing it. A good help is
to compare aspect with mood because both work on the same subjective

I am not sure we are disagreeing here. I also argue for a distinction
between grammatical aspect (imperfective and perfective) and lexical
aspect (state, event, etc.). The fact that something is abstract does
not mean it cannot be semantic (uncancelable). In fact, Rolf applies
exactly the sort of test when he writes

"And similarly with aspect which also is a strictly subjective
matter. If there are examples where the imperfective aspect includes
the beginning of an event,(which I think there are) regardless of the
pragmatic factors working, a definition of imperfectivity excluding
the beginning must be wrong."

THe definition must indeed allow that possibility. I sort of missed
the cave/hole-in-rock analogy: the semantics of cave is relational,
to be sure (hole in something), but that also doesn't mean it isn't
semantic. Rolf, what disagreeement am I missing?


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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