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Definitheit und Spezifizität verbaler Prädikate

Barbara Sonnenhauser

Both nominal and verbal expressions can be used to refer. The referent of a verbal predicate corresponds to the topic time interval I(TT). Internal structure and boundedness characteristics of I(TT) and their relationship to the standpoint of the observer, the točka otsčeta TO, determine specificity and definiteness of this verbal referent. The specification of I(TT) is achieved by grammatical aspect which establishes a relation between the event time interval I(e) and I(TT). In certain cases, aspect selects particular elements encoded in the semantic representation of the verb/VP, namely phases (j) and boundaries (t). In other cases, aspect relates the whole I(e) to I(TT). I(TT) is projected onto the temporal axis of the speaker via TO. With the selection function, I(TT) is unambiguously anchored to TO, with the simple relation function, it is merely quantified over. In the former case I(TT) is specific, in the latter non-specific. The boundedness-feature of I(TT) determines its definiteness: a closed I(TT) is salient and thus definite, an open I(TT) is non-salient and thus indefinite. Bulgarian has grammatical means to specify both internal structure (pf/ipf) and boundedness (Aorist/Imperfect) of I(TT).

This proposal is an attempt to account for the referents and the referential mechanisms of verbal predicates. Regarding grammatical aspect as crucial in this respect sheds new light onto its interpretation and its discourse behaviour. Moreover, this proposal captures parallels between the nominal and verbal domains without ignoring the decisive difference: reference to discourse participants vs. reference to intervals.

Linguistische Beiträge zur Slavistik. XIV. JungslavistInnen-Treffen Stuttgart 2005. Hg. Ljudmila Geist und Grit Mehlhorn. München: Sagner 2008 (= Specimina Philologiae Slavicae 150), 146–162.