"Perfective" definition

ECOLING at aol.com ECOLING at aol.com
Tue Aug 31 14:06:13 UTC 1999

Larry Trask's definition of "perfective",
which Pat quoted today, is very much on target.

>Larry, for example, in his dictionary defines "perfective" as "A
>superordinate aspectual category involving a lack of explicit reference
>the internal temporal consistency of a situation",

Other than not knowing what the "superordinate" means here
(general, abstract?), "lack of explicit reference to the internal
temporal consistency of a situation" is very much like the shorter
"treated as an indivisible unit" which I use.  Either works.
The crucial point is to include the concept that it is not what the
situation is in reality, but raher how it is "treated" or "referred to"
in the minds of speakers and listeners.

Beyond that, it is possible to add some prototypical examples,
but they are not definitional, merely illustrative.

The Russian perfective vs. imperfective is NOT the same thing
as the universal term perfective vs. imperfective.
At least in many cases, the Russian so-called "perfective"
is more a telic completive, hence the use of pre-verbs,
much like "climb" vs. "climb up", as Pat rightly notes for
The category so NAMED in any particular language has its own
special flavors, narrowing or broadening of particular uses,
which distinguish it from a pure universal definitional
perfective or imperfective.

(An even more common problem is what is called a "perfect",
which may often be simply "past" or "anterior" or "perfective"
instead of the universal category centered somewhere around
(current-relevance perfect), which is actually a special kind
of PRESENT with indications of past event subordinated to
the present.)

Best wishes,
Lloyd Anderson
Ecological Linguistics    31 Aug 99, 10 am

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