Re: Tense and Aspect Definitions (To Rolf)

From: Moon-Ryul Jung (
Date: Thu Mar 11 1999 - 18:14:59 EST

 Dear Rolf,
thanks for your answers.
Let me ask some clarifying questions.

Let me try a short explanation. In Mari's model aspect is a semantic
property, in the imperfective aspect RT always intersects the ET at the
nucleus (but not necessarily at the middle of ET) and in the perfective
aspect RT intersects ET at the coda. This means that an event described by
(+future) and the perfective aspect *must* be future perfect - the event
does not last beyond the coda of ET. And similarly, (+future) and the
imperfective aspect *must* be future progressive because ET continues

In this way the aspects are objective, we can predict what a
combination of tense and aspect will turn out to be.

*** clear

Many explanations of aspect have been suggested, and common to most of
them, is that aspect represents a viewpoint. The advantage with Mari's
model for English, is that it avoids the Aktionsart definitions of aspect
(really important!) -

it is just an intersection, it makes visible some of
the event- and it portrays a beautiful and consistent verbal system
exceptions. The basis for both is that there is a semantic relationship
between aspect and ET.

*** Yes, I also think that the temporal relationship between RT and ET is a
 way to explain the illusive concept of "view of event/state".

My studies suggest that there is no direct relationship between aspect and
time in Greek and Hebrew, and that is the reason why I say that the
are subjective. This means that the use of the imperfective aspect does
necessarily show that ET has not terminated and the use of the perfective
aspect does not necessarily show that ET has terminated. So the aspects
alone do not tell us anything about the *objective* nature of the events.

*** clear

The consequence of this is that the beginning and end of ET do not have
same importance as when aspects are objective- the imperfective aspect may
begin before the beginning of ET (conative situations), and it can extend
beyond the end of ET (resultative and factitive situations). And similarly
can the perfective aspect encompass a great section of ET,

ending before the end of ET.

*** do you assume that the verbforms with [+perfective] include both the
aorist and the perfect? Do you mean that both the aorist verb and the
perfect verb refer to a point BEFORE the endin of the ET?


Just as "stative" verbs for the most part have a stative interpretation
can also be interpreted as fientive, thus being not sematically stative,
most cases will the inperfective aspect focus on an area of ET before the
end and the perfective aspect will in most cases include the end of ET
(that is the reason why Greek and Hebrew aspects are interpreted similarly
as the English ones). However, this is not the case in all situations, and
given Grice's cancelability principle, we need a generalization that both
accounts for the "normal" use of the aspects and the other use. My
suggestion is that such subjective aspects should be defined in relation
distance and scope:

 "The imperfective aspect is a closeup view of a small
part of an event or state with visible details, and the perfective aspect
is a broader view from some distance with no visible details."

*** It seems to explain the aorist, but not the perfect verbform.

In Mari's model of aspect, it is the perfect that is perfective in English
and not the simple past.

*** Do you mean that the aorist is perfective whereas the simple past in
is not? If so, by the same logic, we had better regard the aorist not
because it can refer to the time point before the end of the ET.


Moon-Ryul Jung
Assistant Professor
Dept of Computer Science
Soongsil University, Seoul, Korea

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