kimmo.huovila at helsinki.fi
Thu Jul 13 10:06:59 EDT 2000
Peter Kirk wrote:
> But YLD is not punctual in Genesis 38:28
> - an illustration of my cotention
> that most, maybe all, alleged punctuals are only punctual because the events
> are not usually being looked at closely enough to see their internal
There seem to be linguistic limitations that are psychologically real.
An illustration about the psychological reality of this is that you find
"I am finding a tomato." as a special usage, but probably feel more
normal about "He is dying in the hospital."
If need arose in the linguistic community to describe the internal
structure of these situations, linguistic feeling could change rapidly
with respect to the 'strangeness' of using a particular verb with an
adverbial of minimum duration, and thus the verb could quickly lose its
> I think "find" has two meanings in modern English. Colloquially at least, it
> can also mean "search for", as in "finding one's way back". Thus "I am
> finding a tomato" could mean "I am looking for a tomato and about to find
> one". But I would accept that apart from this rather special usage this verb
> can probably be considered punctual. But then I wonder if there is any
> punctual verb, in English, which does not have this sort of polysemy in
> colloquial language. Thus "I am X-ing" would be a general colloquial idiom
> for "I am about to X" or "I am trying to X", where X is any punctual verb.
> This certainly works for verbs like "die". But perhaps someone can correct
> me with an example of an English punctual verb for which this does work.
You raised an interesting question on limitations of this sort of
aspectual polysemy. I would be surprised if language did not yield to
the pressure of a new situation in creating this kind of polysemy if
need arose. With some verbs it is more natural than with other verbs.
Thus we do not need to see the punctual-only vs punctual-durative verb
categories as a strict dichotomy. A continuum probably describes the
situation best. (A corollary to this is that when analyzing an aspectual
system of a language, sensitivity to context is needed.)
> Perhaps something rather similar happens with Hebrew punctual verbs.
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