Re; kirk-aspect vs kind of action

peter_kirk at peter_kirk at
Fri Dec 17 17:14:11 EST 1999

Dear Randall,

Thank you for your helpful comments. I think your predictions are more 
or less borne out from what I know of Russian - of course I don't know 
how much you know, but then I realise the situation is similar to 
Greek, and not so different from English. But there is this 
significant difference, that in Russian almost all prefixes combine a 
lexically conditioned (and so not fully predictable) type or direction 
of action meaning with a predictable change from perfective to 
imperfective, which is cancelled only by adding an imperfectivising 
suffix. I still don't quite see how the whole thing can be layered and 
broken up in a helpful way, but then I realise that I don't properly 
understand the underlying theories in this field.

Peter Kirk

PS "Kirk" is my family name, I prefer to be known as "Peter", or 
perhaps "Mr. Kirk". In the style guide of "The Times" of London, only 
criminals and sportsmen are to be referred to by surnames without 
titles. I don't fit into either of those categories. Perhaps scholars 
and authors may also be referred to by surname (though never, I think, 
to their face), as may schoolboys, but I'm not sure I fit here except 
perhaps in the last category.

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re; kirk-aspect vs kind of action
Author:  <ButhFam at> at Internet
Date:    17/12/1999 04:17

kirk wrote:
>What we see here is a building process by adding bound morphemes from 
>a closed set to the verb stem. The following sequence is attested:

a.    the prefixes will not be as precise as listed above for russian. 
english, another good indoeuropean language, may serve as an example. 
re- is commonly used to signal an 'additional, second action'. e.g. to 
redo, rewrite, renew
but this kind of action is neither an aspect, nor a watertight lexical 
on aspect: 'he rewrote', versus 'he was rewriting' 
on lexical category, notice: reduce, report, return
(none of these currently means 'an additional, second time')
b.    some of the words will be idiomatically restricted or more common in 
one aspect or another.
c.    many/most of the compound, semantically complex verbs will be 
commonly and easily used in both perfective and imperfective aspects. (e.g. 
'the liquid was pouring out', vs. 'the liquid  poured out'.)
d.    complications and fuzzy boundaries may result because the aspectual 
collocations of predictions 'b' and 'c' will get written into the 'mental 
lexicon', in the same way that transitivity and number of arguments with 
propositions gets written into the 'mental lexicon' (e.g. english 'to 
return something', 'to return'). [i use 'mental lexicon' to signal a 
technical use of 'lexicon' within the theory of a structure of a language 
and i am not referring to anything ever articulated, written down or 
published. we don't even know how to best articulate this yet.]

yisge shlamax
randall buth

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