Preverbs in Russian: situation or viewpoint aspect?

Abstract : The present paper has two goals: to present the complex data of verbal prefixation of Russian, and assess the validity of the Situation Aspect-Viewpoint Aspect (Smith 1991) distinction for the preverbs, in particular the thesis that all preverbs are telicity-markers (Borer 2005). First, arguments are introduced to show that the classification into three types of preverbs recognized in the literature (“meaning-modifying”, “superlexical”, “purely perfectivizing”, Svenonius 2004, Janda 2007) breaks down when one looks at the data: all prefixed verbs are automatically perfective (pf), regardless of the type; all are subject to lexical restrictions. A preliminary conclusion is that all preverbs are telicity markers, contra Filip (2005, 2008), for whom the preverb is pre-functional (lexical). In turn, this raises the question of the exact nature of telicity: in the literature (Dowty 1979, Krifka 1998), final telicity is tested by means of in x time frame adverbials. A more relaxed version of telicity is proposed in the paper, following Borer (2005) & Lakorczyk (2010): suffice it for an event to be either non divisive or non homogeneous to be telic. The concept is akin to Paducheva & Pentus’ (2008) terminativity: the function of the preverb is to seal off the event. This accounts for the behavior of po-delimitative verbs, which resist telicity-as-finality tests. Here again, the data show that some assumptions are not correct: po-delim verbs are currently extending their functional scope in Russian and often act as pf partners to imp verbs, they do not necessarily indicate short duration, and are subject to lexical restrictions (Dickey 2006). Finally, the role of the preverb with respect to Viewpoint Aspect is assessed: it is normal to use an impf verb to denote a bounded, i.e. viewpoint-perfective, situation; in secondary imperfectivization, with -iva/-yva suffixation, the preverb remains; and in nominals, no temporal effect is introduced; the only systematic function of the SI suffix is that of marking atelicity. The conclusion is that it is Situation Aspect that is grammaticized in Russian by means of the preverbs, and not Viewpoint Aspect, which is derived by means of correlations.
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Eric Corre. Preverbs in Russian: situation or viewpoint aspect?. Recherches linguistiques de Vincennes, Presses Universitaires de Vincennes, 2014, Constructing Aspect : Syntactic reflections on Aspectual Distinctions. ⟨halshs-01474678⟩



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