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Structural analogy in language and its limits [Contrast and analogy v.2]

Structural analogy in language and its limits [Contrast and analogy v.2]

John Anderson 48 c. Iδa

John Anderson 48 c. Iδa to Giorgo ke tu milisa γia sena I-saw the George and to-him I-talked about you (examples from Holton et al 1997: 224-5). Let us look first of all at the English glosses. When the English past is used habitually, as in the gloss to the underlined form in (109.a), ‘saw’, it is not necessarily specified as such, though it may be differentiated by the periphrasis used to or, indirectly, by an adverbial (as here). The unmarked interpretation of the simple past is, however, universally perfective, as exemplified here by the most obvious interpretation of the gloss to the second underlined form in (109.b), ‘he-heard’. The progressive in English is specified, as in the case of the gloss of the first verb in (109.b). We have in English the expressed contrasts in (110): (110) a. {past} : : {P/{P;N{prog}}} : : {P;N{prog}} : : : : was speaking b. {past} : : {P} | {P;N} : : saw, talked, heard I interpret the periphrastic be as subcategorised for a progressive verb form, thereby allowing to occur in finite contexts (see further note 39). Only this partially non-morphological (periphrastic) representation is lexically specified for aspect. Whether the verb is (110.b) is interpreted as habitual or not is determined by the context. Often in the gloss to (109.a) triggers habitual; in the absence of such a trigger, the normal interpretation is perfective. The unmarked interpretation for prototypical (dynamic, non-durative) past verbs, perfective, is cognitively natural. Thus, in languages that lack tense markers a perfective verb is interpreted as having past-time reference, unless this is overridden by the context (cf. e.g. Comrie 1976: 82-3). A combination of habitual with progressive can also be forced by the context, as in I was reading lots of novels at the time. Expression of progressive and nonexpression of habitual are system-dependent; non-expression of perfective with prototypical verbs is putatively universal. All the corresponding Greek expressions involve a morphologically-expressed {P}. But what is more relevant to our present concern is that it is not progressive that is expressed overtly but imperfective, a more inclusive category which comprises both progressive and habitual. The underlined form in (109.a), evlepa, is imperfective; so is the first underlined verb in (109.b), milusa. But the first of these is distinguished by the context as habitual, and the second as progressive. The non-imperfectives in (109.b) and (c), respec-

49 Structural analogy in language, and its limits tively akuse vs. iδa and milisa, are perfective by default. We might thus represent the various forms as in (111): (111) a. {past} : : {P} | {P;N{impf}} : : milusa, evlepa b. {past} : : {P} | {P;N} : : akuse, iδa, milisa We thus have system-dependent non-specification of progressive, while non-specification of perfective with prototypical past verbs is general. It seems likely, then, that secondary categories in both phonology and syntax show both system-dependent and system-independent non-specification. A preliminary investigation of systems of primary categories, however, suggests that in the case of the phonology we find only system-dependent non-specification, as with the s-onsets of English discussed in §1.3, whereas in syntax the character of non-specification of primary categories is universal. I shall suggest at the beginning of §3 that this particular apparent discrepancy is motivated by interface factors. Nevertheless, presence of both system-dependent and system-independent non-specification seems to be another syntax-phonology analogy. However, we have not quite finished with the area of aspect, which yields another kind of analogy to familiar phonological phenomena. With non-past verbs (in contrast with simple non-pasts) imperfective, and particularly habitual, seems to be unmarked. Thus, in languages without tense markers, just as a perfective verb is normally interpreted past (unless overridden by the context), so an imperfective verb is interpreted as non-past. The following Yoruba examples from Welmers (1973) are cited by Comrie (1976: 83): (112) a. ó ń ṣisé he impf. work (‘He is working, he works continuously’) b. ó wá he came In English non-pasts, progressive is again specified, and the non-progressive is only interpreted as perfective in specific well-known environments – as in sports commentaries (He passes the ball to Smyth) or newspaper headlines (Bush resigns), though the latter may rep-

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