Aspectual triplets: secondary imperfective as the marker of high individuation of situations

2014. № 2 (28), 9-57

Gennadij M. Zeldovich, University of Warsaw


The author seeks to show that in aspectual triplets the secondary imperfective attributes to the relevant situation a higher degree of individuation than the morphologically simple imperfective verb, and this fact is responsible for several properties displayed by secondary imperfectives: a greater proportion of referentially definite subjects and objects, of animate subjects and objects, of lexically concrete subjects and objects, as well as of subjects and objects previously activated in the discourse; a relative paucity of reflexive secondary imperfectives as compared to non-reflexive verbs; a greater proportion of secondary imperfectives modified by direct indicators of agentivity; a greater number of secondary imperfectives used in narration or narration-like contexts; their lower frequency in generic utterances. It is concluded that the similarity between secondary imperfectives and the corresponding perfectives extends much further than is usually assumed, and that the relevant situations are higher in individuation in the first place due to the discourse structure of the text, rather than to their referential properties, which renders secondary imperfective a sui generis marker of coherence.