[B-Greek] Aspect and Aktionsart Definitions
pbekins at fuse.net
Mon Sep 10 17:48:47 EDT 2007
>> Are there agreed upon definitions for "Aspect" and "Aktionsart"
by most grammarians/linguists?
>> Is Aspect (Perfective, Imperfective, and Stative) also called
>> Is Aktionsart (Iterative, Durative, Constative, Ingressive, etc.)
also called Lexical Aspect?
>> Delbert Flora
As I was taught, in modern linguistic thought aspect was formally
distinguished from tense by Russian linguists who recognized the
perfective/imperfective distinction. This idea of separating the
temporal "quality" of an action from its time reference was brought
into German where it was given the broad name aktionsart, roughly
translated as "manner of action". However, as study progressed the
idea was further refined so that aspect and aktionsart were also
distinguished, but how to formally define them became an issue of
debate since there are a multitude of ways syntax and semantics can
intersect to express aspect.
In the German school aspect remained the more general category and
tended to be semantic in nature while aktionsart referred to all the
morphological, lexical, and syntactic ways various languages mark
aspect. However, in the Russian/Slavic school aspect formally
referred to morphologically marked verb forms while aktionsart was
reserved for the lexical nature of the verb, sometimes called inner
aspect (ie, to "hit" something is by nature a point action, therefore
it can only be iterative and not continuous). These ideas were
maturing in the mid to late 20th century.
The terms "grammatical" aspect and "lexical" aspect are reminiscent
of the Slavic School's distinction between aspect and aktionsart,
but dropping the now confusing term aktionsart. They were developed
by Carlota Smith in a 1991 book, _The Paramater of Aspect_, in which
she puts forth a two-component view of aspect from the syntactic and
semantic perspectives. Carl's definition from deMoss reflects the
older German School. As you can imagine, various other approaches to
aspect have developed from the perspectives of syntax, semantics,
discourse analysis, grammaticalization, etc.
Thus, aspect is understandable as a generic term in distinction from
tense. However, what German linguists called aktionsart tends to
reflect what the Slavic linguists formally called aspect, and non-
linguists who don't formally belong to either school, but probably
picked up the terminology in biblical Greek and Hebrew :), get them
all mixed up leading to the type of confusion you are experiencing.
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