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Can aspect be marked by an inflecting word (‘auxiliary verb’)?

Summary

This feature covers all grammatical aspects (internal temporal constitution of events/actions/states) and aims to capture phonologically free elements that inflect (i.e. change form depending on person, number and other categories of the core arguments). These markers are often described as ‘auxiliary verbs’ in the literature, but they are also analyzed under other labels by some authors (such as STAMP morphemes (STAM = Subject-Tense-Aspect-Mood-Polarity) or inflecting pronouns). We are interested in grammatical marking, that is, dedicated, productive and obligatory marking.

Procedure

  1. Look up the section on aspect marking in the grammatical description.
  2. Consider all aspectual distinctions. Not only perfective, for instance.
  3. If you do not find any inflecting words expressing aspect, such as auxiliary verbs or elements analyzed as pronouns that take TAM marking, code as 0.
  4. If there is an inflecting word (e.g. an auxiliary verb) that clearly expresses aspect, code 1.
  5. If it is not clear whether the inflecting word marks aspect, code ?.

Examples

Swedish (ISO 639-3: swe, Glottolog: swed1254)

Swedish uses an auxiliary derived from the verb ‘to have’ to indicate the difference between simple past and present perfect (Teleman et al. 1999: 207). The verb is also in a different form, the supine form. Swedish is an example of a 1 for this feature.

Verb Present Simple past Present perfect
‘to swim’ simma-r simma-de har simma-t
‘to dance’ dansa-r dansa-de har dansa-t

Further reading

Comrie, Bernard. 1976. Aspect. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Comrie, Bernard. 1985. Tense. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Dahl, Östen. 1985. Tense and aspect systems. Oxford: Blackwell.

References

Teleman, Ulf, Staffan Hellberg & Erik Andersson. 1999. Svenska akademiens grammatik, vol. 1. Stockholm: Svenska akademien.

Related Features

Patron

Hedvig Skirgård