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Aspect and Aktionsart: towards a semantic distinction1

  • Carl Bache (a1)

The Slavonic notion of ‘vid’ (= ‘aspect’) has recently received much attention from the viewpoint of general linguistics. Not surprisingly, perhaps, some of the major contributions to the study of aspect as a general metalinguistic category are offered by linguists who are anxious to treat aspect in terms so general that the category applies to as many specific problem areas in non-Slavonic languages as possible (such as the opposition between the so-called progressive and non-progressive forms in English and the opposition between the imparfait and the passé simple in literary French). However, in my view, a satisfactory assessment of aspect in non-Slavonic languages can only be arrived at if we obey the following two conditions: (1) the general metalinguistic category of aspect must be defined independently of problem areas in non-Slavonic languages; (2) the relationship between aspect and other categories traditionally associated with the verb (especially tense and Aktionsart) must be specified.

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Journal of Linguistics
  • ISSN: 0022-2267
  • EISSN: 1469-7742
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