LINGUIST List 14.1535

Thu May 29 2003

Sum: Aspect in Hindi

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Srija Sinha, Summary: Aspect in Hindi

Message 1: Summary: Aspect in Hindi

Date: Thu, 29 May 2003 06:42:15 +0000
From: Srija Sinha <>
Subject: Summary: Aspect in Hindi

Dear All,

A little more than a week back (Linguist 14.1440)I had posted a query
requesting information on literature on Hindi aspect (recent works,
current approaches). A summary of the responses follows.

1. A downloadable paper on Hindi aspectual structure is available on
Gillian Ramchand's website, to have a look at this paper go to scroll down and follow the link
to the paper 'Complex Aspectual structure in Hindi/Urdu' by Miriam
Butt and Gillian Ramchand. References cited in this paper provide a
lot of information on the available literature on aspect.

2. Apart from syntactic and semantic approaches and analyses,
aspectual systems have been analysed from the perspective of
'Grammaticalization'. I am grateful to Dr Harold F. Schiffman for a
detailed response, and knowing no better way to express what was said
in it, I have quoted and paraphrased parts of Dr Schiffman's response
on the process of grammaticalization, and provided further links to
this, below:

''The whole approach of Grammaticalization is that when a language
recruits lexical verbs or nouns and uses them to express grammatical
categories, it's almost always a process that takes centuries to be
completed, and some of the items will be more complete than others.
This allows for a kind of variability that is not sociolinguistic, but
grammatical, and it also allows for polysemy and shows why there is
phonological reduction.'' Grammaticalization can be seen as a
metaphoric or metonymic process and some people prefer one over the
other (i.e. metaphor or metonymy), however, both processes are the
same in so far as they both involve the use of a verb of motion,
e.g. to express 'futurity' or another verb to express completion, etc.
Further, this also helps explain why Indian languages have verbs that
are expressive of various kinds of 'attitude' about the situation or
the speaker or the action, e.g. verbs that lexically mean 'throw' or
'cast down' or 'drop down' to have some aspectual meaning, but also
are expressive about the speech situation. These are, believed to be
less grammaticalized than the others, and may always remain so. But
interestingly, they are also verbs of motion, though not common verbs
like 'go' or 'come'.

Dr Schiffman teaches a course on grammaticalization and the interested
readers can visit his website link for details on this and
for his own research and work on Tamil. Peter Hook's work on 'vector
verbs' as quoted in Hopper and Traugott's book on Grammaticalization,
are cited by Dr Schiffman, as a seminal work in the same area.

3. A model has been recently developed by Xiao and McEnery (2003),
which builds on earlier work on English aspect and takes it further
still. This work utilises distinctive features to attempt a
decomposition into binary features of event structure, and it employs
a two-tiered approach to Hindi aspect---taking into account lexical
and sentential levels of aspect. This model has been successfully
applied to corpus-based studies on aspect in Chinese and English. The
reference to this paper is: Xiao and McEnery, A.M. (2003). Aspect in
Chinese, John Benjamins. Amsterdam. (forthcoming).

THanks to everyone for their responses/replies,
Kind Regards,

Subject-Language: Hindi; Code: HND 
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