Russian Linguistics

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 129–146 | Cite as

Aktinosart and aspect in Russian

  • H. Hamburger


In the present investigation we have tried to gain an insight into the nature and the functioning of the category ofAktionsart (AA) in Russian by applying a semantic model of the predicated (actional model). Making use of existing knowledge of the AA in a language in which no formally characterized AAs occur, namely German, and taking into account what has been said in earlier investigations (Isačenko, Lehmann, and others) about the semantic side of AA in Russian, we have added to the above-mentioned model of the predicated a system of seven semantic AAs. These AAs indicated the predicate as a whole or only part of it: causing event, caused event, one of the caused events phases, etc. The semantic AA has a maximum degree of universality and is as much as possible dissociated from the realization of the actional system in individual languages. The semantic AAs are the terminative AA, the conative AA, the aterminative AA, the iterative AA, the AA of the single process, the inchoative AA, and the ingressive AA.

The semantic AAs function in clusters: a predicated contains one of the three AAs, terminative, conative and aterminative; in addition to this a predicate is ingressive or non-ingressive, iterative or non-iterative, inchoative or non-inchoative. In principle every predicate belongs to such a cluster of semantic AAs.

Since almost every predicated in Russian is realized in either of the two aspects, the embodiment of the semantic AAs in Russian predicated forms results in a confrontation with aspect, i.e. with the aspectual meanings ‘wholeness’ and ‘non-wholeness’ and through them with a vast system of aspectual forms. Thus in a Russian predicated form the meanings of AA and aspect coalesce. However, whereas aspect is morphologically expressed in almost every predicated form, AA is characterized formally in only part of the predicates.

The semantic AAs are not related to the Russian aspects in a one-to-one correspondence. For they are realized in both aspects, although as a rule one of the aspects is dominant. This relationshiop of dominance accounts to a great extent for the aspectual usage. The uni-aspectual groups of verbs, regarded as AAs by Isačenko, among others, are here considered variants of a semantic AA. Examples of such variants are the delimitative verbs, the semelfactive verbs, etc.

An advantage of the procedure adopted here is that the enormous number of predicates can be distributed over a limited number of semantic types (AAs) and moreover that all predicateds are involved in the AA-System. No doubt the degree of universality of the semantic model of the AA-system can be enhanced by contrastive analyses of more languages.


Cause Event Semantic Model Imperfective Aspect Perfective Aspect Semantic Time 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Hamburger
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GroningenNetherlands

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