Perfectivity and Atelicity: The Role of Perfective Aspect in Aspectual Composition

Cross-Linguistic Perspectives on the Semantics of Grammatical Aspect

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The paper investigates the role of grammatical aspect in the aspectual composition of strictly incremental theme verbs (eat and drink). It is asserted by different authors that in the Slavic languages, telicity is dependent on grammatical aspect. Only perfective incremental theme verbs, they claim, result in a telic predication. Thus, investigating aspectual composition allows us to determine whether and how grammatical aspect (perfectivity) and lexical aspect (telicity) are interrelated.

This paper examines aspectual composition in the two Slavic languages Polish and Bulgarian. The basic argumentation is that perfective aspect is neither sufficient nor necessary to achieve a telic incremental theme predication. Instead, an incremental theme predication arises under the following conditions: (i) a verbal prefix induces a lower bound on the change expressed by the verb, and (ii) the verb denotes individuated events.