This book presents a complete overview of the tense-aspect (T/A) system of
Polish and provides the Tense-Aspect-Narrative (TAN) theory to unify all
the parts into a systematic whole. It covers the semantics, syntax, and
morphology of aspect with special attention to the role T/A forms play in
the construction of Polish narrative. The relations between time and tense
and between aspect and Aktionsart are considered prior to a complete
reanalysis of the tenses and aspects. The tenses are realigned into
imperfective and perfective pasts, imperfective and perfective non-pasts,
and an imperfective future. A close examination of the morphology of aspect
leads to the conclusion that there are three aspects in Polish: perfective
and derived vs. unmarked imperfectives. The unmarked imperfectives have
morphologically simplex stems without perfectivizing prefixes or
imperfectivizing suffixes and communicate Maslov’s general factual meaning.
A geometric analogue for the meanings of the three aspects is given and
reasons for the widespread but mistaken belief that Polish aspect is binary
are examined. Finally, there is an open-ended list of special pragmatic
considerations that call for imperfective-perfective juxtapositions.
The book then turns to the heart of the matter: the use of particular T/A
forms to signal the contribution each clause makes to an overall narrative.
The narrative functions (NF) include PLOT and PRAGMATIC DESCRIPTION
(foreground-background) and a third function, TEMPORAL BACKGROUND, for
which solid discourse and morphosyntactic evidence is provided. The two
narrative times, past and present, are combined with the three NF to
produce the TAN hypothesis, which predicts the unmarked T/A choice for the
appropriate NF. These are the unmarked T/A-to-NF relations, but they may be
overridden by a pragmatically marked form, according to the author’s
intent. The system is applied successfully to two written narratives (one
past, one present) and to one complex oral narrative with both past- and
present-time subtexts. Empirical verification of the TAN hypothesis is
provided in the results of two different tests taken by native speakers in
Wrocław and Poznań.
The book concludes with some suggestions as to how to apply the TAN system
to teaching aspect to students who are not native speakers of any Slavic