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Conference Information

Full Title: Development of Aspect and Tense Systems

Short Title: Aspect and Tense Developments
Location: San Antonio, Texas, USA
Start Date: 03-Aug-2017 - 03-Aug-2017
Contact: Jadranka Gvozdanovic
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting Description: Linguistic construal of time lies at the center of language; it is also one of the cognitive foundations of culture. Construal of time categories can frame the situation semantics so as to either focus on boundedness (in the sense of Verkuyl 1972) or blend it out; it enables different conceptualizations of the inner temporal constituency of situations (in the sense of Comrie 1976) that constitute the category of aspect. In addition to aspect (as situation-internal time), there is also situation-external time, conceptualized as relatively ordered temporal intervals, yielding the category of tense. The essential similarity of aspect and tense lies in the temporal framing of situations by aspect and the relative ordering of these frames by tense. Historical developments have reflected this similarity in transfers of formatives (such as the -s- aorist ending becoming a marker of perfectivity in a part of early Indo-European, or desinence similarity between the imperfect and the imperfective aspect in medieval Slavic) and constraints on aspect-tense formations.

This workshop aims at going one step further than the usual research by analyzing the systematic and functional details of such processes in the context of the semantic, syntactic and pragmatic properties of the discussed languages.

For the development of aspect, the following major strategies are usually mentioned: univerbation of preverbs to yield prefixes; stem modification (including reduplication e.g. in Indo-Aryan); and paraphrasis with verbs of movement, etc. However, all these strategies affect lexical aspect, whereas grammatical aspect as a (possibly hierarchically branching) binary temporal category does not seem to be captured by them.

The workshop will discuss processes which can lead - and have led - to the development or simplification of aspect and tense systems, including their mutual interaction. Based on a clear definition of lexical aspect as a property of the predicate and of grammatical aspect as a temporal framing of the situation that overlays lexical aspect (cf. Gvozdanović 2012) with a propensity to participate in higher language levels, this workshop will also discuss the influence of scoping sentential elements (e.g. temporal adverbials) on aspect and tense. Another possible topic is temporal structures in narratives and their semantic, cognitive and informational properties.

Special attention will be paid to typology. Even genetically closely-related languages exhibit differences in the construal of temporal categories, especially of aspect (e.g. Dickey 2000 concerning Slavic). The emergence of radically different aspect and tense systems, as a rule, never stands alone, but occurs as part of integrated space-time construals (cf. also Gvozdanović 2015) in typologically different systems (such as e.g. Celtic vs. Germanic or Romance). Development of temporal categories in a typological context will be another major focus.

The workshop aims to cover developments in different language families, but its organization will hinge on categories and problems of identification. In this sense, it will contribute to theory and methodology in addition to language description. Language contact and typology will play a major role throughout, not only for understanding sources of the relevant developments, but also for gaining more general insights into the formative properties of language types.
Linguistic Subfield: General Linguistics; Historical Linguistics; Semantics
LL Issue: 27.3363

This is a session of the following meeting:
International Conference on Historical Linguistics 23

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