[Lingtyp] Frequency of (im)perfective marking

Wiemer, Bjoern wiemerb at uni-mainz.de
Tue Jul 12 07:39:57 UTC 2022

Dear All,
while Gertraud Fenk-Oczlon’s papers (I think there were more than one) are surely path-breaking (for the reason indicated by Martin), Walter Breu earlier dealt with actionality-based reasons of an asymmetry between pfv. and ipfv. stems in Russian and – still in the pre-corpus age – showed this to be relevant on the basis of frequency dictionaries. There is also a paper by Volkmar Lehmann, who showed basically the same (on other data) and gave a similar explanation. See references below.
In any way – there is no way of claiming that either pfv. or ipfv. aspect per se is “default”. It first of all depends on the actionality group (starting with [+/- telic / bounded splits].

Happy reading!

Breu, Walter. 1980. Semantische Untersuchungen zum Verbalaspekt im Russischen. München: Sagner.

Lehmann, Volkmar. 1993. Die russischen Aspekte als gestufte Kategorien (Ein Beispiel für die Bedeutung der kognitiven Linguistik in der slavistischen Sprachwissenschaft). Die Welt der Slaven 38-2, 265-297.

Von: Lingtyp [mailto:lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org] Im Auftrag von Martin Haspelmath
Gesendet: Montag, 11. Juli 2022 20:09
An: lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
Betreff: Re: [Lingtyp] Frequency of (im)perfective marking

As far as I know, the first work to discuss Russian aspect frequencies  in a general-theoretical context is the following paper by Fenk-Oczlon, who argues for a frequency-based (rather than iconicity-based) explanation of coding asymmetries:

Fenk-Oczlon, Gertraud. 1990. Ikonismus versus Ökonomieprinzip: Am Beispiel russischer Aspekt-und Kasusbildungen. Papiere zur Linguistik 42(1). 49–69. http://wwwu.uni-klu.ac.at/gfenk/ikon_gesamt.pdf

In his monograph Language universals, Greenberg (1966: 49) had discussed the frequencies of perfective/imperfective aspect (again with reference to Russian), but without drawing conclusions.

What's great about Fenk-Oczlon is that she points out that different types of verbs have different propensities to occur in perfective or imperfective aspect, thus foreshadowing Bohnemeyer & Swift (2004).

Am 11.07.22 um 16:40 schrieb Juergen Bohnemeyer:
Dear Eline — Bohnemeyer & Swift (2004) discuss default uses of viewpoint aspects crosslinguistically from a pragmatic perspective. While our paper is not itself corpus-based, we do briefly consider the older acquisition literature, which examined both kids’ production frequencies and their input frequencies. A more recent detailed corpus study of aspect in Russian is Janda et al. (2013).

HTH! — Juergen

Bohnemeyer, J., & M. Swift. (2004). Event realization and default aspect. Linguistics and Philosophy 27(3): 263-296.

Janda, L., A. Endresen, J. Kuznetsova, O. Lyashevskaya, A. Makarova, T. Nesset, & S. Sokolova. Why Russian aspectual prefixes aren’t empty: Prefixes as verb classifiers. Bloomington, IN: Slavica Publishers.

On Jul 11, 2022, at 8:08 AM, Eline Visser <eelienu at protonmail.com<mailto:eelienu at protonmail.com>> wrote:


Could anyone point me to a paper that says something about the frequency of perfective vs imperfective marking in languages that mark both? I wonder if any of the aspects tends to be the default aspect.

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