Article published in:Development of tense and aspect systems
Edited by Jadranka Gvozdanović
[Journal of Historical Linguistics 10:2] 2020
► pp. 325–345
Continuity and change in the aspect systems of Vedic and Latin
This paper examines the development of the aspect systems in the Indo-European languages Vedic and Latin. Even though aspectual distinctions are central in the verbal systems of both of these languages at the beginning of their attested traditions, they undergo quite different developments in the course of their history. The Vedic verbal system instantiates a classic case of the development from aspect to tense, whereas Latin maintains an aspect-based verbal system, which survives in the Romance languages. The paper explores the semantic properties of the Vedic and Latin past tenses in some detail from two distinct perspectives: a neo-Reichenbachian model, where aspect is regarded as a type of relation between reference time and event time (cf. e.g., Dahl 2010, 2015), and a model where aspect involves different types of partitive operators (cf. Altshuler 2013, 2014). Although these two approaches may first appear to be in conflict, the paper attempts to show that they represent complementary perspectives highlighting different dimensions of aspectual meaning.
Keywords: Aspect semantics, semantic change, Vedic Sanskrit, Latin, diachronic typology
Published online: 21 August 2020
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