"Semantic Motivations for Aspectual Clusters of Russian verbs"


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“Semantic Motivations for Aspectual Clusters of Russian verbs”

  • Laura A. Janda

  • University of Tromsø

  • laura.janda@hum.uit.no

  • hum.uit.no/lajanda


Main Ideas

  • Meaning of verb motivates aspectual behavior

  • Conceptualization of different types of events and relationship to time

  • Components of verb meaning correlate with selection of Perfectives



Theoretical Framework

  • Cluster model, four types of Perfectives

  • Metaphors motivate Perfectives

  • Cluster structure: 0-4 types of Perfectives

  • Cluster structure largely predictable from the meanings of verbs

  • Motion verbs are prototypical



Overview

  • Cluster model

  • Types of Perfectives

  • Implicational hierarchy

  • Metaphorical motivation of Perfectives

  • Travel vs. motion and Completability

  • Granular vs. fluid and Singularizability

  • Conclusions



Part 1

  • What is the structure of the aspect system?



Problem:

  • Model of aspectual “pairs” has a long tradition:

    • Vinogradov 1938, Šaxmatov 1941, Bondarko 1983, Čertkova 1996, Zaliznjak & Šmelev 2000, Timberlake 2004


What is an aspectual cluster?

  • An aspectual cluster is a group of verbs joined via transitive relationships on the basis of aspectual derivational morphology

    • All verbs in a cluster are aspectually related to a single lexical item
  • In addition to Imperfective Activity verbs, an aspectual cluster can include four types of Perfective verbs:



Four types of Perfectives:

  • Natural Perfective:

    • написатьp ‘write’, связатьp ‘tie’, о(б)щипатьp ‘pinch/pluck’, окрепнутьp ‘get stronger’
  • Specialized Perfective:

    • переписатьp ‘rewrite’, развязатьp ‘untie’, переработатьp ‘revise’, вдутьp ‘blow in’, выщипатьp ‘pluck out’
  • Complex Act Perfective:

    • пописатьp ‘write a while’, поработатьp ‘work a while’, подутьp ‘blow a while’, пощипатьp ‘pinch/pluck a while’, поскрипетьp ‘squeak a while’
  • Single Act Perfective:

    • дунутьp ‘blow once’, щипнутьp ‘pinch/pluck once’, скрипнутьp ‘squeak once’


Cluster components:

  • Five items (Imperfective Activity + four types of Perfectives) can compose 31 different combinations, but only 12 cluster types are attested

  • The three metaphors motivate an Implicational Hierarchy that constrains the structure of aspectual clusters



The Implicational Hierarchy:

  • There is a single Implicational Hierarchy that predicts all and only the aspectual clusters that exist in Russian.

    • This result is based on empirical study of two multiply stratified samples of over 350 verb clusters (several thousand verbs).


The Implicational Hierarchy:

  • Activity

  • щипатьi ‘pinch/pluck’

  • > (Natural/Specialized Perfective)

  • о(б)щипатьp ‘pinch/pluck’/выщипатьp ‘pluck out’

  • > Complex Act Perfective

  • пощипатьp ‘pinch/pluck a while’

  • > Single Act Perfective

  • щипнутьp ‘pinch/pluck once’



Cluster Structures

  • Activity

  • Activity + Natural Perfective

  • Activity + Specialized Perfective

  • Activity + Natural Perfective + Specialized Perfective

  • To any of the above one can add either:

  • …+ Complex Act Perfective

  • …+ Complex Act Perfective + Single Act Perfective

  • Total: 12 extant cluster types



Part 2

  • Why does the aspect system have this structure?



Metaphors and types of perfectives:

  • Three metaphors govern the Russian aspectual system

  • These metaphors motivate the derivation of four different types of Perfective verbs



The three metaphors

  • Solid vs. Substance => Perfective vs. Imperfective

  • Travel vs. Motion => Construal of Completability

  • Granular vs. Fluid => Construal of Singularizability



Travel vs. Motion

  • One can travel to a destination

    • or –
  • One can move without a destination

  • This distinction is grammaticalized in Russian motion verbs: идтиi ‘walk (somewhere)’ vs. ходитьi ‘walk (around, back and forth)’

  • This can be likened to the Completability of an action



Completability:

  • Писатель пишетi книгу.

  • ‘The writer is writing a book.’



Completability:

  • Many verbs are Ambiguous:

    • Completable
      • Писатель пишетi книгу ‘A writer is writing a book’
    • Non-Completable
      • Писатель пишетi книги ‘A writer writes books’
  • Some verbs are Non-Completable: стонатьi ‘moan’

    • But some can be Completable if specialized
      • работатьi ‘work’ > переработатьp ‘revise’
  • Few verbs are unambiguously Completable:

      • крепнутьi > окрепнутьp ‘get stronger’


What Completability means for aspectual derivation:

  • Only verbs that can be construed as Completable have Natural Perfectives

    • писатьi ‘write’ > написатьp ‘write’, крепнутьi ‘get stronger’ > окрепнутьp ‘get stronger’
  • Only verbs that can be construed as Non-Completable have Complex Act Perfectives

    • писатьi ‘write’> пописатьp ‘write a while’, стонатьi ‘moan’> постонатьp ‘moan a while’, работатьi ‘work’> поработатьp ‘work a while’
  • Verbs that can be Completable if specialized have Specialized Perfectives

    • писатьi ‘write’> переписатьp ‘rewrite’, работатьi ‘work’ > переработатьp ‘revise’


Granular vs. Fluid:

  • Substances can be:

    • Particulate, like sand
    • Continuous, like water


Singularizability:

  • Мальчик дулi на одуванчик.

  • ‘The boy was blowing on the dandelion.’

  • Мальчик дунулp на одуванчик.

  • ‘The boy blew once on the dandelion.’



What Singularizability means for aspectual derivation:

  • Only verbs that can be construed as Non-Completable and have a Complex Act Perfective can also have a Single Act Perfective:

      • щипатьi ‘pinch/pluck’ + пощипатьp ‘pinch/pluck a while’ > щипнутьp ‘pinch/pluck once’
      • дутьi ‘blow’ + подутьp ‘blow a while’ > дунутьp ‘blow once’
      • скрипетьi ‘squeak’ + поскрипетьp ‘squeak a while’ > скрипнутьp ‘squeak once’
      • работатьi ‘work’ + поработатьp ‘work a while’ > *работнутьp ‘work once’ [NB: Some are formed ad-hoc]


Singularizability and motion verbs:

  • The Non-Completable motion verbs can also be construed as Singularizable

    • ходитьi ‘walk’ can refer to multiple round-trips, in which case there is a Single Act Perfective сходитьp ‘make a single round trip’


Conclusions:

  • The cluster model is more accurate than the “pair” model

  • Cluster structures are highly constrained and transparently motivated by meanings of verbs:

    • Verbs with Completable construals form Natural Perfectives
    • Verbs with Non-Completable construals form Complex Act Perfectives
    • Verbs with Granular construals form Single Act Perfectives
  • Motion verbs play a prototypical role in the system



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