The Term Aktionsart

Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: The Term Aktionsart

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » May 5th, 2012, 9:48 am

Stephen Carlson wrote: Tatavosov's article starts off with a quote on the terminological Tower of Babel here:
The article also has a partial answer to my question, "What's the detailed history of the term 'Aktionsart' in both general linguistics and Koine?" in p. 328 fn. 7.

"In studies of Slavic languages, the term “Aktionsart” refers to groupings of verbs that share some component of meaning AND a particular morphological expression."

"In more recent studies (see, e.g., Steinitz 1981) the term “Aktionsart” is typically used as a closer equivalent of the term “actionality”, without the implication that a semantic grouping must be associated with any morphological expression."

In both cases it refers to classification of verbs (words), not to traditional grammatical categories of usage (punctiliar, continuative, habitual, gnomic etc.).
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Alan Patterson
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Re: The Term Aktionsart

Post by Alan Patterson » May 6th, 2012, 1:54 pm

Does the proposed definition of Aktionsart "actuality" mean What Actually Took Place (is taking place, will, etc.)? Since writers of the story can present the events from their perspective (lexical and grammatical combination), is "actuality" mean also The Actual Event independent of lexical or grammatical choices?

I typically think of Semantics as the by-product of the lexical and grammatical choices the writer made. So, if this is basically true, are you saying that the lexical and grammatical aspect are subjective and the Actuality is objective?
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Alan Patterson

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Re: The Term Aktionsart

Post by MAubrey » May 6th, 2012, 3:06 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:Of course, but what does it mean for them? If you refer to my earlier "I haven't found a comparable term for Koine 'Aktionsart' there" I meant that there's no one neat word for the thing which is nowadays meant with Koine 'Aktionsart', i.e. the final grammatical categorization of verb usages. (At least Con Campbell seems to mean that with 'Aktionsart', but not necessarily everyone else does.)
You will find similar terminology (iterative, constative, etc.) in Carlotta Smith's work, at least in her monograph on aspect. She uses such categories as the cumulative result of the interaction of situation aspect and viewpoint aspect in a given language.

(FYI, Stephen, It was my mistake to say "situation" and "grammatical" aspect in reference to Smith earlier. I was writing from memory instead of walking across the room to the bookshelf to check for myself).
Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:What's the detailed history of the term 'Aktionsart' in both general linguistics and Koine?
Well, at the turn of the century, the history of the term Aktionsart is the same for general linguistics as it is for Greek. Robertson and Moulton are both at the forefront of linguistics with their grammars.
Alan Patterson wrote:Does the proposed definition of Aktionsart "actuality" mean What Actually Took Place (is taking place, will, etc.)? Since writers of the story can present the events from their perspective (lexical and grammatical combination), is "actuality" mean also The Actual Event independent of lexical or grammatical choices?
I typically think of Semantics as the by-product of the lexical and grammatical choices the writer made. So, if this is basically true, are you saying that the lexical and grammatical aspect are subjective and the Actuality is objective?
Hi Alan, where did you hear that definition? It definitely does not mean "What Actually Took Place." Aktionsart is as much a choice the speaker/writer makes as tense, aspect, or mood are. The idea that it is objective is a myth perpetuated by a number of NT scholars. They're wrong. Neither aspect nor aktionsart is "objective."
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Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: The Term Aktionsart

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » May 6th, 2012, 3:37 pm

MAubrey wrote:
Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:Of course, but what does it mean for them? If you refer to my earlier "I haven't found a comparable term for Koine 'Aktionsart' there" I meant that there's no one neat word for the thing which is nowadays meant with Koine 'Aktionsart', i.e. the final grammatical categorization of verb usages. (At least Con Campbell seems to mean that with 'Aktionsart', but not necessarily everyone else does.)
You will find similar terminology (iterative, constative, etc.) in Carlotta Smith's work, at least in her monograph on aspect. She uses such categories as the cumulative result of the interaction of situation aspect and viewpoint aspect in a given language.
I'm still not sure if we are talking about the same thing. As far as I can see 'Aktionsart' in linguistics means nowadays roughly the same as 'situation aspect'. If I may simplify and interprete Con Campbell and your description of Smith:

Campbell: type of lexeme + aspect (=viewpoint aspect) + context -> Aktionsart (=the final grammatical categories).
Smith: situation aspect (=Aktionsart?) + viewpoint aspect -> ??? (the final grammatical categories? or what?).

Campbell has moved the term Aktionsart to a different level. That doesn't feel right. But is there a single word in general linguistics which describes Campbell's Aktionsart?
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Re: The Term Aktionsart

Post by MAubrey » May 6th, 2012, 4:11 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:Campbell: type of lexeme + aspect (=viewpoint aspect) + context -> Aktionsart (=the final grammatical categories).
Smith: situation aspect (=Aktionsart?) + viewpoint aspect -> ??? (the final grammatical categories? or what?).

Campbell has moved the term Aktionsart to a different level. That doesn't feel right. But is there a single word in general linguistics which describes Campbell's Aktionsart?
I'd say that Campbell is unique there.

As for Smith, the final categories are still aspectual for her. And I think that's what the old grammarians would have said, too. Some languages actually have a morphological form to mark iterative. In such languages you might have a system like:

Perfective
Imperfective
Iterativ
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: The Term Aktionsart

Post by Stephen Carlson » May 6th, 2012, 5:18 pm

MAubrey wrote:I'd say that Campbell is unique there.

As for Smith, the final categories are still aspectual for her. And I think that's what the old grammarians would have said, too.
Campbell may be unique here, especially in his use of Aktionsart, but what he's doing, notwithstanding the terminology, seems useful to me. I do think we should distinguish between the inputs and the output. I just want a good name for this output.

As for Smith, I understand her to talk of "aspectual coercion," that is, the grammatical aspect (her "viewpoint") may cause the Aktionsart (her "situation type") to change from one to another. While I like the concept of coercion, I don't like that the pre- and post- coercion situation types are not clearly distinguished.

Stephen
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Re: The Term Aktionsart

Post by Stephen Carlson » May 6th, 2012, 5:19 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:Campbell has moved the term Aktionsart to a different level. That doesn't feel right. But is there a single word in general linguistics which describes Campbell's Aktionsart?
That's my question. I'm prepared to abandon the term Aktionsart all together.

Stephen
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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MAubrey
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Re: The Term Aktionsart

Post by MAubrey » May 6th, 2012, 7:15 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:That's my question. I'm prepared to abandon the term Aktionsart all together.
Do it. I have already, at least for my own work. Depending on the context of my writing, I either use the term Situation Aspect or Predicate Class. The latter is the Role and Reference Grammar application of Vendler's typology to clausal semantics. Each of the types: activity, state, accomplishment, achievement, semelfactive, and their causative counter-parts are classes of predicates.
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Re: The Term Aktionsart

Post by RDecker » May 6th, 2012, 8:02 pm

MAubrey wrote:
Alan Patterson wrote:Does the proposed definition of Aktionsart "actuality" mean What Actually Took Place (is taking place, will, etc.)? Since writers of the story can present the events from their perspective (lexical and grammatical combination), is "actuality" mean also The Actual Event independent of lexical or grammatical choices?
I typically think of Semantics as the by-product of the lexical and grammatical choices the writer made. So, if this is basically true, are you saying that the lexical and grammatical aspect are subjective and the Actuality is objective?
Hi Alan, where did you hear that definition? It definitely does not mean "What Actually Took Place." Aktionsart is as much a choice the speaker/writer makes as tense, aspect, or mood are. The idea that it is objective is a myth perpetuated by a number of NT scholars. They're wrong. Neither aspect nor aktionsart is "objective."
Let's not absolutize the rejection of objective language altogether. :) It is true in a **relative** sense that verbal aspect (perfective, imperfective, etc.) is *more subjective* than Aktionsart in that Aktionsart is more dependent on the lexeme chosen to describe the action/situation. I can use almost any of the aspects to describe a particular situation, but the nature of the event constrains me in some significant ways when it comes to Aktionsart. I cannot chose to use "he ran" in place of "he is writing." But in another sense, yes, both aspect and Aktionsart are subjective to some degree.
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Rodney J. Decker
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Re: The Term Aktionsart

Post by RDecker » May 6th, 2012, 8:09 pm

MAubrey wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:That's my question. I'm prepared to abandon the term Aktionsart all together.
Do it. I have already, at least for my own work. Depending on the context of my writing, I either use the term Situation Aspect or Predicate Class. The latter is the Role and Reference Grammar application of Vendler's typology to clausal semantics. Each of the types: activity, state, accomplishment, achievement, semelfactive, and their causative counter-parts are classes of predicates.
A different term would not be unwelcome, but let's not assume it's a done deal just from discussion on this list. Nor can it be an "unfriendly" term if it's going to gain acceptance from the "mainstream" users and not just linguists and some NT scholars. Aspect has undergone a healthy debate for over 20 years now. Aktionsart has not had that benefit. Even though Fanning's work was largely about Aktionsart, that portion of his work has been too much ignored. There is certainly other work, but nothing that has received sufficient attention to provide any consensus regarding definition, terminology, or significance. We need that debate first before we declare terminology here. We could use a few good dissertations or at least some substantive journal articles to help put things in focus. The back-and-forth, snippet-level discussion here won't accomplish much in the bigger picture.
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Rodney J. Decker
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