The Terminology of Aspect & Aktionsart

The Terminology of Aspect & Aktionsart

Postby Alan Patterson » September 24th, 2012, 7:37 am

Is anyone opposed to using the terms Grammatical Aspect and Lexical Aspect, and dispensing of the words "Aspect & Aktionsart"? I really don't know what using the term "Aktionsart" buys us... or a non-Germanic student. I think if we use the more simplified terms, we can quickly move beyond having to define and contrast Aspect and Aktionsart. We can see that Grammatical Aspect deals with Tense, Person, Voice, etc., whereas Lexical Aspect deals with the lexeme itself and its internal contributions.

We can see the confusion when the single word "Aspect," within the old system,is used to define both terms, namely, Grammatical Aspect = Aspect and Lexical Aspect = Aktionsart
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Re: Aspect & Aktionsart

Postby cwconrad » September 24th, 2012, 7:59 am

Alan Patterson wrote:Is anyone opposed to using the terms Grammatical Aspect and Lexical Aspect, and dispensing of the words "Aspect & Aktionsart"? I really don't know what using the term "Aktionsart" buys us... or a non-Germanic student. I think if we use the more simplified terms, we can quickly move beyond having to define and contrast Aspect and Aktionsart. We can see that Grammatical Aspect deals with Tense, Person, Voice, etc., whereas Lexical Aspect deals with the lexeme itself and its internal contributions.

We can see the confusion when the single word "Aspect," within the old system,is used to define both terms, namely, Grammatical Aspect = Aspect and Lexical Aspect = Aktionsart

To the Moderators, it would be helpful when we select Preview that it shows exactly like it will show when posted. I am looking at my Preview and I do not see colors, underlines, etc. In fact, it looks identical to my "initial pre-post."


I rather think this question belongs not under "Koine Greek Texts: New Testament" but rather under "Greek Language and Linguistics: Syntax and Grammar." The question being asked here implicitly raises another question: "How is any consensus ever attained over standard linguistic terminology to be used consistently by all who wish to discuss such matters?" This may be tied up with the degree of consensus obtaining between alternative theoretical approaches to questions in Linguistics. It seems to me that proposals such as Alan offers here could be helpful, but that they also may lead to multiplication of alternative terminologies. It is precisely such "confusion of tongues" that has occasioned me heretofore to describe Linguistics as a "Tower of Babel." Perhaps we must wait for the descent of the Holy Spirit before we can speak of such matters with one voice.

As for the other matter, how Preview displays the format of draft messages, my experience has been that it does show colors, underlining, etc., etc., very well. Users who don't recognize these formatting items in Preview may be using a browser that isn't set properly or an operating system that isn't set properly.
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Re: The Terminology of Aspect & Aktionsart

Postby MAubrey » September 24th, 2012, 11:14 am

cwconrad wrote:I rather think this question belongs not under "Koine Greek Texts: New Testament" but rather under "Greek Language and Linguistics: Syntax and Grammar."

Done!
Alan Patterson wrote:Is anyone opposed to using the terms Grammatical Aspect and Lexical Aspect, and dispensing of the words "Aspect & Aktionsart"?

Yes. Me.

The label "Lexical Aspect" is just as bad because Lexical Aspect isn't lexical.
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Re: Aspect & Aktionsart

Postby Stephen Carlson » September 24th, 2012, 11:28 am

Alan Patterson wrote:Is anyone opposed to using the terms Grammatical Aspect and Lexical Aspect, and dispensing of the words "Aspect & Aktionsart"? I really don't know what using the term "Aktionsart" buys us... or a non-Germanic student. I think if we use the more simplified terms, we can quickly move beyond having to define and contrast Aspect and Aktionsart. We can see that Grammatical Aspect deals with Tense, Person, Voice, etc., whereas Lexical Aspect deals with the lexeme itself and its internal contributions.

We can see the confusion when the single word "Aspect," within the old system,is used to define both terms, namely, Grammatical Aspect = Aspect and Lexical Aspect = Aktionsart


The general trend in linguistics is to avoid both Aktionsart and lexical aspect as terms. The problem with the former is that (a) a lot of older literature conflated Aktionsart and (grammatical) aspect and (b) the Slavicists tend to use the term for the use of prefixes and other derivational means of changing the sense of the verb. The problem with the latter is that it is not truly "lexical" because for many languages, especially English, it also depends on the verbal arguments (e.g., objects and certain prepositional phrases). Thus, it becomes disconcerting to say that "John walked in the park" and "John walked to the park" have different lexical aspects.

There is a whole Pandora's Box of other terminology for this: "situation type" (Carlota Smith), "actionality" (Bertinetto et al.), "procedural characteristics" (Fanning). I've also read "event type." I forget what the functional linguists call it.

In general, I'm not a fan of opaque German terminology, so I feel your pain on this point.
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Re: The Terminology of Aspect & Aktionsart

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » September 24th, 2012, 2:55 pm

For those who don't know, there's already a thread about The Term Aktionsart. It covers quite much the same ground.
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Re: Aspect & Aktionsart

Postby Jonathan Robie » May 12th, 2013, 9:01 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:The problem with the latter is that it is not truly "lexical" because for many languages, especially English, it also depends on the verbal arguments (e.g., objects and certain prepositional phrases). Thus, it becomes disconcerting to say that "John walked in the park" and "John walked to the park" have different lexical aspects.


Ah, that makes sense, but I'm obviously behind the times. What's a better term to use? Is there a short article that discusses this clearly?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Aspect & Aktionsart

Postby Stephen Carlson » May 13th, 2013, 6:48 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:The problem with the latter is that it is not truly "lexical" because for many languages, especially English, it also depends on the verbal arguments (e.g., objects and certain prepositional phrases). Thus, it becomes disconcerting to say that "John walked in the park" and "John walked to the park" have different lexical aspects.


Ah, that makes sense, but I'm obviously behind the times. What's a better term to use? Is there a short article that discusses this clearly?


In the last eight months since my post, I've become even more dispairing that that there is a best term to use. To a certain extent, some of it depends on the linguistic framework you're working in and the identity of the scholars and linguist you aim to be interacting with. As bad as Aktionsart is, at least it will be familiar to those working in Biblical Greek if they've read their Robertson (who is surprisingly compatible with modern thinking on the question). Most exegetes will have little idea about this debate or distinctions, however.

It may be better to discuss the matter in terms of the features that are important to the analysis at hand, e.g., (a)telic, (un)bounded, punctual, durative, static, dynamaic, etc., or in terms of those Vendler categories (which have their own proliferation of names and taxonomies).
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Re: The Terminology of Aspect & Aktionsart

Postby Ken M. Penner » May 13th, 2013, 9:33 am

In the Hebrew branch of this topic, I posted some links to relevant helpful articles, which I will repeat here:
The World Atlas of Language Structures, at http://wals.info/ , includes "Chapter 65: Perfective/Imperfective Aspect" at http://wals.info/chapter/65 and "Supplement: Tense and Aspect" at http://wals.info/supplement/7 .
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Re: Aspect & Aktionsart

Postby Jonathan Robie » May 13th, 2013, 4:23 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
Jonathan Robie wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:The problem with the latter is that it is not truly "lexical" because for many languages, especially English, it also depends on the verbal arguments (e.g., objects and certain prepositional phrases). Thus, it becomes disconcerting to say that "John walked in the park" and "John walked to the park" have different lexical aspects.


Ah, that makes sense, but I'm obviously behind the times. What's a better term to use? Is there a short article that discusses this clearly?


In the last eight months since my post, I've become even more dispairing that that there is a best term to use. To a certain extent, some of it depends on the linguistic framework you're working in and the identity of the scholars and linguist you aim to be interacting with. As bad as Aktionsart is, at least it will be familiar to those working in Biblical Greek if they've read their Robertson (who is surprisingly compatible with modern thinking on the question). Most exegetes will have little idea about this debate or distinctions, however.


OK, but let me try to understand your objection to the term "lexical aspect".

Most aspects of meaning of a verb are affected by the objects of the verb. Sure, "John walked in the park" and "John walked to the park" have different lexical aspects, but "John hit a ball in the park" and "John hit on her in the park" also have different meanings. I generally think of the various meanings of a verb as being lexical, even if a single verb can have many senses, which may sometimes be selected based on the objects of the verb.

Is my thought model flawed here? If not, then "lexical aspect" still seems like a useful term, it's just that the aspect for a given lexeme may need to be parameterized further.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Aspect & Aktionsart

Postby MAubrey » May 14th, 2013, 12:39 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:Most aspects of meaning of a verb are affected by the objects of the verb. Sure, "John walked in the park" and "John walked to the park" have different lexical aspects, but "John hit a ball in the park" and "John hit on her in the park" also have different meanings. I generally think of the various meanings of a verb as being lexical, even if a single verb can have many senses, which may sometimes be selected based on the objects of the verb.

Is my thought model flawed here? If not, then "lexical aspect" still seems like a useful term, it's just that the aspect for a given lexeme may need to be parameterized further.


The problem is that the difference in aktionsart/actionality between "John walked in the park" and "John walked to the park" does not coincide with different lexical senses of the verb. Are you proposing that we actually need a new sense of walk to capture the distinction? That seems highly unintuitive to me. It isn't the kind of distinction in lexical semantics that a native speaker would accept.
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