furuli at online.no
furuli at online.no
Wed Jan 28 05:20:12 EST 2004
I have a few comments which are somewhat different from other
comments recently given.
We need to differentiate between three different kinds of time,
"deictic time", and the two members of the group "non-deictic time",
namely "event time" and "reference time".
We use deictic time when an event is seen in relation to the deictic
center (C) (a vantage point which often is speech time). Events
having past tense come before C, those having present tense (or
present reference) occur contemporaneously with C, and events having
future tense occur after C Tense represents deictic time.
Aspect represents non-deictic time. An event which is not
instantaneous, takes some time, and the time from its beginning to
its end is called "event time" (ET). In communication, often just a
part of the event is made visible, and this small (or bigger) part of
ET that is made visible, is called "reference time" (RT). From
another point of view we can say that RT intersects ET. In 1) RT
intersects ET at the nucleous, which is the imperfective aspect. In
2) RT intersects ET at the coda - that is the perfective aspect.
1) Liz was reading a book.
2) Liz has read a book.
To compare tense and aspect we can say.
Tense is the relationship between RT and C and represents deictic time.
Aspect is the relationship between RT and E and represents non-deictic time.
In English, aspects are objective, because the perfective aspect
always signals that the event was terminated at RT, and the
imperfective aspect signals that the event was not terminated at RT.
In Greek the aspects are subjective, because we cannot conclude on
the basis of the aspect used whether an event/state was terminated or
not at RT. I claim that Greek aspects are very different from their
I use the word Aktionsart in a more restricted way than Con does. It
refers only to the lexical meaning of a word, and typical Aktionsart
terms are "durative" and "punctiliar". "Semantic meaning" refers to
characteristics that cannot be cancelled by the context and
"conversational pragmatic implicature" refers to characteristics that
can be cancelled or imputed by the context. Aktionsart does not
represent "semantic meaning," because the Aktionsart meaning can
change. Words that are marked for dynamicity, durativity, or telicity
will never loose these characteristics, but words whose default
interpretation is punctiliar, can have a durative interpretations as
Characteristics which normally are functions of Aktionsart (the term
related only to single words as above) and other factors I call
"procedural characteristics". The combination of factors such as
whether subject/object are singular/plural or definite/indefinite,
the nature of adverbials, whether the Aktionsart is punctiliar or
durative, whether the perfective or imperfective aspect is used, will
cause different procedural characteristics.
Iterativity is in my system not an Aktionsart but a procedural trait.
In 3) below, simple past i used, so we know that the action was
terminated before C, but it is not made visible whether Peter knocked
once or several times. In 4) an iterative action is described, but
this conclusion is not based on aspect alone or Aktionsart (which is
punctiliar) alone, but on the combination of the Aktionsart and the
imperfective aspect. In 5) we also have an iterative situation, but
this interpretation is based on the combination of the adverbial and
the past tense. I have added 6) which most likely should be
interpreted as habitual (which is the sister of interative events).
The habitual interpretation of 6) is based on the adverbial, on the
past tense, but most of all on a knowledge of the world (the
knowledge that the paper is printed every day).
3) Peter knocked at the door.
4) Peter was knocking at the door.
5) Peter knocked at the door for two minutes.
6) Last year I read the New York Times.
I recommend Mari Broman Olsen (1997) "A Semantic and Pragmatic Model
of Lexical and Grammatical Aspect". This is the best work regarding
tense/aspect/Aktionsart of which I am aware (although I disagree with
Mari that the meaning of aspect is universal).
University of Oslo
>All this controversy concerning Porters analysis of
>the verb has left me in need of some clarity
>concerning crucial terminology.
>Would I be right in thinking the following:
>The semantics of a verb tense refers to its entire
>range of meaning, which it brings to given a context?
>Whereas the pragmatics refers to the contextual
>modification that the verb undergoes?
>Actionsart is a view of the verb that considers it an
>objectively defined action? Whereas aspect considers
>the verb a subjectively defined action?
>Please clarify and feel free to expand.
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