The role of lexical aspect in constructing Proto-Indo-European verbal paradigms

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The aim of this paper is to recover the role of the [± telic] inherent feature of PIE verbal roots, regardless of the many different meanings which derived verbs could take depending on their combination with arguments, adverbials, and so on. Semantic changes due to different contexts could have indeed obscured the relationship between the original lexical aspect of a verb and the structure of its morphological paradigm. The aspectual class is often described as a compositional property, and verbs are even analyzed as complex structures made up of completely neutral roots without any information about their argument structure. However, the distribution and the kind of forms within the paradigm can shed light on this point. Why are some verbal forms rather than others chosen as basic in an emergent inflectional paradigm? Why are some verbs initially inflected only as root-formations, while others only as derived formations? Moreover, why are some verbs inflected only in the present stem and completely lack an aorist stem, while others are inflected only in the aorist and completely lack a present stem? After comparing the paradigm structure of Vedic Sanskrit and Homeric Greek verbs derived from those PIE roots constituting the basic lexicon of the protolanguage, I will argue how the [± telic] feature of the inherited roots is responsible for a non-random distribution of inflected forms within earlier verbal paradigms.ReferencesAlbright, Adam (2002). The Identification of Bases in Morphological Paradigms. UCLA dissertation.Bybee, Johan (1985). Morphology. A study of the relation between meaning and form. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Rothstein, Susan (2008). Theoretical and Crosslinguistic Approaches to the Semantics of Aspect. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Strunk, Klaus (1994). Relative Chronology and Indo-European Verb-System: The Case of Present- and Aorist-Stems. JIES 22-3/4.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2009

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