Verbal Aspect Analysis

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The simple present and the present progressive encode semantic meaning through a combination of devices. From general to specific, these semantic devices are: (a) nature of the specific verbal aspect, (b) inherent semantic properties of the verb, (c) aspectual classes of the verb, and (d) core meanings of the verb predicate. Below is the essence of each semantic device, presented in the order just mentioned.

Nature of Verbal Aspect. Exploration of the nature of verbal aspect can be traced back to Aristotle’s differentiation between Energeia and Kinêsis (see Mourelatos, 1993). In the more recent half a century, aspectual considerations have been conceptualized into a continuum that differentiates between states and processes (e.g., Kenny, 1963).
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In the English temporal system, the inherent semantic properties of a verb grow out of the lexical verb being combined with its corresponding aspectual classes. Verbal aspect (or lexical aspect) refers to the situational types of states, activities, accomplishments, or achievements (Vendler, 1967). Each situation type in the verb or verb phrase (e.g., run a mile) (Smith, 1983) can be further differentiated based on the temporal properties of dynamicity, telicity, and durativity (Comrie, 1976). Dynamicity refers to whether energy is required to maintain a temporal situation or not. Dynamicity can be contrasted with stativity, the latter of which refers to the unlikelihood of a temporal situation to change (Yap et al., 2009). Telicity includes a natural endpoint, and indicates whether a temporal situation is complete or not. Durativity indicates duration of action, meaning how long or how briefly a temporal situation …show more content…
For the historical present, temporality still has an important part to play given that in a narrative discourse, no foregrounding or highlighting of importance is possible without the contrasting use of the past tenses in the background. As for the usage in personal, lively oral narration, temporality becomes secondary to the speaker’s perceived personal distance (or closeness) to the temporal situation, the latter of which is a pragmatic consideration rather than a discourse one. As such, the usage in personal, lively oral narration is motivated by concerns of implicature (Gries, 1974), as opposed to the tacit requirement to move time forward in a narrative discourse (Dowty,

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