Conlangery 137 medallion

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George and William come back to talk about telicity and lexical aspect. Listen to us talk about endpoints in events and puzzle over why achievement and accomplishment are supposed to mean different things.

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2 Responses to “Conlangery #137: Telicity and Lexical Aspect”

  1. Jyri J. Lehtinen

    Well, welcome back. One thing I didn’t catch you touching on is the effect of negation on telicity. In Finnish the objects of negated verbs get the same partitive case marking as in atelic affirmative clauses, compare

    Kirjoit-i-n tutkielma-n loppu-un.
    write-PST-SG1 dissertation-ACC end-ILL
    “I finished the dissertation.”


    E-n kirjoitta-nut tutkielma-a loppu-un.
    NEG-SG1 write-PST.PTCP dissertation-PART end-ILL
    “I didn’t finish the dissertation.”

    This makes intuitive sense (how can an action be telic if it hasn’t occurred at all?), but it would certainly be nice to know how things are treated more widely crosslinguistically.

    BTW, the Finnic use of partitive for atelic objects has at least some parallel in Mordvin. Zaicz in Abondolo (1998) gives for example the following example (in Erzyan I assume),

    jars-an jam-do, śim-an ved′-t′e
    EAT-SG1 soup-ABL, drink-SG1 water-ABL
    “I eat soup, I drink water.”

    Here the atelic objects are marked with ablative, which is directly cognate with the Finnic partitive case. The exact distribution of these forms is left annoyingly open, though, since the relevant description only reads,

    “An indefinite direct object is normally in the nominative indefinite, but the ablative is often used with non-count nouns.”


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