Lexical and Grammatical Aspect Essay

2835 WordsMay 5, 201312 Pages
Explain the difference between grammatical and lexical aspect. In relation to both of these, discuss why you think the study of aspect has been likened to a “dark and savage forest” Binnick, 1991:135) Aspect can be defined as the different ways of viewing the internal temporal constituency of a situation (Comrie, 1976). However, this can be misleading as two different phenomena generally manifest as aspect: namely grammatical aspect and lexical aspect. Grammatical aspect reflects the speaker’s viewpoint or perspective on a situation and lexical aspect is derived from the inherent aspectual meanings of verbs and is not marked formally. In this essay, the features of grammatical and lexical aspect will be defined so that the statement: aspect has been likened to a “dark and savage forest” can be discussed in relation to the concept of multivalency. Grammatical Aspect The study of aspect initially arose from the study of Slavic languages, where verbs often occur in aspectual pairs. A compulsory and formal feature of these verbs is to correlate themselves in imperfective vs. perfective aspectual pairs with the use of separate aspectual markers (Mourelatos, 1981). Since Slavic languages have these well-developed formal markers of aspect, the assumption that the Slavic system must serve as a model for all other aspectual systems is problematic. The analysis of aspect seems to pose particularly acute problems in English, especially because no formal markers of aspect are predominant in the verb and since lexical markers of aspect do not appear to constitute a coherent system (Brinton, 1988). However, while a language may not have fully grammaticalized markers of an aspectual category, it is still possible for a language to express the grammatical category in question. In this case, English uses a combination of inflectional suffixes, auxiliary verbs, and verbal

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