Aktionsart

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Aktionsart

Post by Stephen Carlson » December 5th, 2013, 4:35 pm

Robert Burcham wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:It is almost as if there is a blind spot in Porter to Aktionsart. I want to understand why.
Consulting K.L. McKay's work may help explain Porter's view of a firm division between semantic and pragmatic, subjective and objective. Porter follows many of McKay's conclusions, including aspect as a subjective view of the author contra Aktionsart (see Porter's Verbal Aspect in the Greek of the New Testament, 48–50).
Thanks for that. I was more wondering, when I started this thread, whether Porter has gone back and considered Aktionsart afresh in light of developments since 1990. I don't think his dissertation really addressed what Fanning did with Aktionsart (and of course it couldn't address it directly as Fanning was still working on it).

ETA: 'I'm also confused how something can be both "objective" and "pragmatic" as Aktionsart is being claimed to be.
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MAubrey
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Re: Aktionsart

Post by MAubrey » December 5th, 2013, 5:10 pm

Stephen Carlson; my emphasis wrote:Thanks for jumping in, Robert. I agree with your statement of Porter's view on verbal aspect. He makes a big deal about it being a "reasoned subjective choice" of the speaker. In fact, it is in terms of subjectivity and objectivity that his dissertation distinguishes between aspect and Aktionsart. Specifically, he discussed the century-old approach to Aktionsart and characterized it as viewing the action "objectively," which allowed him to disregard that objective view as irrelevant to his system. Personally, I have not found his dismissal of the old Aktionsart particularly persuasive because I felt that he over-emphasized whatever objectivity the notion may have had (in fact, he even castigated the old proponents for being contradictory when they discussed Aktionsart in subjective terms).

...

I don't claim to be an expert on Porter's thinking, but I have to admit that I'm fairly surprised that his disagreement with Aktionsart has something to do with a distinction between semantics and pragmatics. I thought the problem with the old school Aktionart was that it was too objective, not that it was too pragmatic.
I'm yet to actually see any evidence at all that the old grammarians viewed aktionsart as being an objective view of a given verb.

The idea that aktionsart of objective in the old grammars could use explanation/citation/reference in and of itself.

I'm inclined to reject the idea entirely. If it existed at all, it existed as a confusion (non-grammarian) exegetes created independent of the claims of the old grammarians.
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Re: Aktionsart

Post by Stephen Carlson » December 9th, 2013, 5:44 am

I'm just the messenger, here. Maybe somebody who better understands Porter's thinking can comment on this. I just don't get this distinction or why it is important.
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Re: Aktionsart

Post by TimNelson » November 1st, 2014, 2:20 am

I'm trying to come to grips with the way people are using the word Aktionsart. Would I be correct in summarising it this way?

There are three things:
- Lexical Aspect (aspecty-type things dependent on the lexeme) <------------------- Traditionally this is what everyone calls Aktionsart
- Grammatical Aspect (aspecty-type things dependent on the inflection)
- Pragmatic Aspect (aspecty-type things that manifest in a particular usage) <-------- This is what Porter and Campbell call Aktionsart

Hence everyone is confused about Porter, and he's confused about them.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Aktionsart

Post by Stephen Carlson » November 1st, 2014, 3:21 am

Well, it's not quite that simple. (Here, by "lexical aspect" we're taking into consideration the arguments (esp. objects) of a verb, so the term is a bit a misnomer, but we'll keep going with it.)

In my view, the traditional notion of "Aktionsart" (e.g. A.T Robertson) is an unsystematic mismash of lexical and grammatical aspect.

I kind of feel that Campbell's notion Aktionsart is a less unsystematic mismash of the same. I don't really see much pragmatics in what he's doing (for which I expect extra-sentence level effect or meaning enrichment dependent on the speaker's context, etc.). What we're looking at is semantics in composition, not pragmatics. Of course, some theoreticians don't even accept a distinction between semantics and pragmatics, so there's that problem as well.

Porter's notion is Aktionsart is something he characterizes as "objective." I don't really understand that characterization. It's not really what other people, even those whom Porter critiques, are doing. I am still at a loss.

Personally, I would retire "Aktionsart" as a term and move onto something like "actionality" or "inner aspect" or the like. Fanning prefers to call it "procedural character." I've also read terms like "situation type," "event type," "eventuality type," the list goes on.

Understanding the basic concept is probably more important than picking the right term.
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Re: Aktionsart

Post by TimNelson » November 1st, 2014, 4:43 am

I guess that explains why I always struggled with the idea of Aktionsart then. I'd be happy to replace it, as long as we use different terms for the different meanings it had :).

OK, I think I see your distinction between pragmatics and semantics-in-context, and I agree that, as you're using the terms, Campbell's doing what you claim. I was using "pragmatics" the way Campbell was, which may've been a mistake.

Then again, maybe I'm not sure how you're using pragmatics. I understand you to be saying that pragmatics has to involve either:
i) Discourse-level effects, OR
ii) "meaning enrichment dependent on the speaker's context"

Is this second one looking at the speaker's current situation and using that to read additional meaning into the text? If so, how is this different than discourse analysis?

For the record, I'm using meaning 1 of "discourse analysis" from this link:

https://sites.google.com/a/sheffield.ac ... e-analysis
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Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: Aktionsart

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » November 1st, 2014, 4:52 am

For what it's worth, here is a quote from Jean-Pierre Desclés and Zlatka Guentchéva: “Universal and Typology”, in Robert I. Binnick, ed. (2012): The Oxford handbook of tense and aspect (page 126). (Orthography is mine, Aspect1 and 2 should be marked with subscript numbers, references are left out).
Sasse (1991, 2002) explores the relations between grammatical aspect on the one hand, which we will call Aspect1 (perfective, imperfective, progressive, etc.), and Aktionsart, on the other, referred to as Aspect2 (stative, dynamic, punctual, etc.). To these must be added a third category, referred to as Aspect3, which concerns verbal phrases (begin, end, etc.; see Comrie, 1976, p. 6) and discourse markers. Some authors mainly base their typologies on the study of Aspect1, using the well-known binary morphological distinction between Perfective and Imperfective, alongside additional categories such as “habitual,” iterative,” “progressive,” etc.; others base their analyses on Aspect2, often using a theoretical approach founded on conceptual schemas. In this category one finds studies on actionality (Aspect2) by e.g., Sasse (1991), Breu (1994), Bertinetto (1994), Bertinetto and Delfitto (2000), Tatevosov (2002), among others. All of the aforementioned authors follow the conceptual “time-schemata” established by Vendler (1957), whereas Dahl (1985), Bybee and Dahl (1989), and Bybee et al. (1994) present typological studies of Aspect1 based more on an inductive conceptual approach through generalizations from large language samples. Sasse (1991), however, argues that cross-linguistically the distinction between Aspect1 and Aspect2 is not as clear-cut as may first appear.
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Re: Aktionsart

Post by TimNelson » November 1st, 2014, 5:37 am

Eeli, I like this. Thanks.
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Re: Aktionsart

Post by Paul-Nitz » May 28th, 2015, 11:28 am

RandallButh wrote:Amen. Traditionally, aktionsart is rooted in the lexical semantics of a verb, thus "semantics", not "pragmatics."
For example, "swim" is inherently and lexically more durative than "hit". However, a speaker can choose to put either verb in either an imperfective aspect (not viewing the endpoint and internally partial) or a perfective aspect (including the endpoint in view and internally indivisible [hence the 'viewed from outside' metaphor]). And yes, the interaction of the lexical aktionsart and aspect can produce further pragmatic effects, but one should not thereby define the lexical semantic-aktionsart as "pragmatic." Calling aktionsart "pragmatic" is a red herring and would lead the discussion into a mistaken framework based on mistaken starting points...

...In fact, if someone does not already know the field, they should be advised not to read either Porter or Campbell...
I have ignored the Aktionsart Aspect business in the past. I figured it was linguistic mumbo-jumbo. I'm happy with my simple understanding of Aspect and figure I can "smell" the author's intent in choosing a certain aspect. But the topic keeps coming up, so I decided I would try to understand the mumbo-jumbo. I've read a couple papers, Campbell's book, many B-Greek posts. I am thoroughly and completely befuddled. Everything I read compares a swirl of different views. Could we have someone like Randall Buth explain this Aspect versus Aktionsart business simply and positively, according to their confident understanding, without reference to 17 other views. I don't mean to sideline other views of the thing off-hand, but newcomers to the concepts need to start with ONE view and understand it. Then we can move on and consider other views. Right now, the topic is a great big frustrating smudge to me.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Aktionsart

Post by Stephen Carlson » May 28th, 2015, 6:23 pm

Welcome to the club, Paul! I'm afraid that, while the title of Con Campbell's book promises to deliver what one would want on the topic, what it actually delivers is yet another idiosyncratic take on the question. This isn't a criticism unique to Campbell, however: In this field, idiosyncratic takes seem to be the order of the day. One day, someone will have to write a theoretically informed book on the topic that isn't satisfied with rehashing the past attempts in our narrow field to address the issue but will incorporate insights from typologists doing proper cross-linguistic work. That day has not happened yet.
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