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A NEW COGNITIVE FRAMEWORK FOR RUSSIAN ASPECT

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Document pages: 21 pages

Abstract: The validity of the traditional approach to the semantics of verbal aspect in Russian based on the features “boundedness” and “totality” is questioned. It is argued that these features are not in-herent in the meaning of all perfective verbs and cannot be regarded as the semantic invariant of aspectuality. A different approach is suggested, based on the analysis of morphological and syn-tactic evidence and on the assumption that the cognitive function of grammar is to categorize relevant human experience. It is shown that aspectual oppositions reflect the different cognitive statuses of the events expressed by paired verb lexemes: observed events are categorized in the form of aspectually marked verbs, whereas aspectually unmarked verbs categorize events without reference to observation. The grammatical meaning of aspect is defined as indication to the source of information about the event which can be definite (based on observation), or indefinite (based on speaker’s knowledge), and has little to do with “boundedness” or “totality”. The sug-gested analysis is consistent with the central claim of autopoiesis as the theory of the living: "Eve-rything said is said by an observer to another observer ".

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