CANCELLED Linguistics Colloquium: Natasha Kasher & Aviya Hacohen

30/11/2021 - 14:00 - 15:30

Apologies but this talk is cancelled.

Natasha Kasher & Aviya Hacohen, Ben Gurion University

Title: How perfect is the perfective? On the availability of Russian non-culminating accomplishments


It is a widely established view in the event-semantics literature that perfective (PFV) telic accomplishment predicates, comprised of a dynamic verb and a quantized incremental theme argument, denote culmination (Parsons 1990). Nevertheless, it has also been increasingly recognized over the past two decades that such forms demonstrate varying degrees of culmination requirements crosslinguistically (e.g., Arunachalam & Kothari 2011, Bar-el et al. 2005, van Hout 2018). While PFV non-culminating accomplishments have been found in a variety of languages and language families (see Filip 2017 for a detailed list), the Slavic PFV has been consistently argued throughout the theoretical and psycholinguistic literature to enforce strict culmination requirements on telic accomplishments within its scope, such that non-culminating readings are entirely disallowed for such forms (e.g., Filip 2017). This is illustrated by the contrast between Hindi (1) and Russian (2): 

(1) maya-ne biskuT-ko khaa-yaa par us-e puuraa nahiin khaa-yaa 

Maya-Erg cookie-Acc eat-Perf but it-acc full not eat-Perf 

‘Maya ate a cookie (but not completely).’

(Arunchalan & Kothari 2001) 

(2) Masha s’ela prjanik (#no ne ves’). 

Masha. PFV.ate.SG.F gingerbread.cookie.ACC (#but not all). 

‘Masha ate a/the gingerbread cookie (#but not all of it).’ 

We report results from a scalar acceptability judgment task, which challenges this generally assumed typology. Specifically, we show that Russian speakers systematically allow for PFV telic accomplishments to denote non-culminating events. Hence, what these indicate is that contra to the long-held consensus, the Russian PFV does not impose stricter culmination requirements than, for example, English or even the Hindi complex PFV (cf. Filip 2017). To account for these data, we draw on the notion of “imprecise language” (Lasersohn 1999) and granularity level (Martin 2019, Martin & Demirdache 2020). 


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