Re: miscellaneous (phonemes, flaw in aktionsart, etc.)

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Thu Mar 19 1998 - 12:40:10 EST

At 11:12 AM 3/19/98 -0500, Mari Broman Olsen wrote:
>The classification task is therefore constrained to the minimal
>specification of features required to account for the variance. And
>here's where I differ from Jonathan (and Edgar? Dale? with whom he
>agreed), in allowing SOME aspects of Aktionsart to be affected by
>context: marking of unmarked features.

Actually, I think we agree with each other on this. I also see Aktionsart
as being marked or unmarked for certain features; in fact, although I use
different names, they are the same features that you use. Here's a
discussion from a paper I wrote that compares my terminology to yours and

Little Greek Fanning Olsen
Goal-oriented verbs [+bounded] [+telic]
Change verbs [+change] [+dynamic]
Duration verbs [+durative] [+durative]

A verb may belong to more than one of these classes at the same time, and
verbs can be classified by combinations of aspect features. Both Fanning
and Olsen categorize verbs into "aspectual classes" like these:
             Goal-oriented? Change? Duration? Examples
State Yes ecw ‘I have’; zaw ‘I live’
Activity Yes Yes grafw ‘I write’; poreuomai ‘I
Accomplishment Yes Yes Yes peiqw ‘I persuade’; plhrow ‘I
Achievement Yes Yes apwqnhskw ‘I die’; piptw ‘I

This table contains "Yes" entries, but no "No" entries. Consider the first
row: a state is always a duration verb, regardless of context, but the
context determines whether a verb involves a goal or a change. For
instance, states like ecw and zaw do not, in themselves, indicate change or
a goal, but when states are used with the aorist, it often indicates entry
into the given state.

In addition to allowing context to mark unmarked features, I also wonder
whether the different senses of a verb may have different Aktionsart.




Jonathan Robie

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