Aspektualität ohne Aspekt?

Aspektualität ohne Aspekt? Progressivität und Imperfektivität im Deutschen und Schwedischen. By Henrik Henriksson. (Lunder germanistische Forschungen 68.) Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 2006. Pp. 159. ISBN 9122021507. €24.30.

Reviewed by Heiko Narrog, Tohoku University

It is a well-known fact that among the Germanic languages only English has developed a truly grammaticalized progressive. The other languages have what are sometimes labeled as ‘progressive markers’, as opposed to the ‘progressive form’ of English. Furthermore, aspectual distinctions in the lexicon as systematic as those in Russian are also absent. It is thus generally assumed that the Germanic languages are not ‘aspect languages’, with the possible, but dubious exception of English. Henriksson’s book, originally his doctoral dissertation, deals with aspectual expressions mainly in German, and, for comparative purposes, in Swedish, against the background of the grammatically more developed aspectual systems in Russian and English.

After an introduction, H contrasts the concepts of ‘aspectuality’ and ‘aspect’ in general linguistics in Ch. 2. In Ch. 3, H discusses the internal structure of aspectuality, suggesting a two-dimensional model with four situation types (states, activities, accomplishments, and achievements) and two ‘perspectives’ (Blickwinkel)—the imperfective and the perfective. The ‘progressive’, then, is a subtype of the imperfective perspective.

In Ch. 4, H compares the expression of imperfectivity vs. perfectivity in German and Swedish. The author shows that, while both languages have no grammatical category exclusively dedicated to the expression of aspectual perspective, tense distinctions, temporal adverbs, and sometimes articles and light verb constructions may serve to express aspectual distinctions. Ch. 5 analyzes progressive markers in German and Swedish, showing that markers in both languages are not yet fully grammaticalized, but that the Swedish markers have proceeded further than their German counterparts, as reflected in less grammatical and stylistic constraints of their use, and, consequently, a higher frequency of use. It should be mentioned here that concerning the progressive markers in German, a considerably more detailed study was published in 2002 (Progressiv im Deutschen. Eine empirische Untersuchung im Kontrast mit Niederländisch und Englisch, by Olaf Krause). H’s work nevertheless deserves attention since it manages to frame the issue of grammaticalizing progressive markers in Germanic languages in a broader perspective of aspectuality and imperfectivity. H’s argumentation and style of writing is straightforward and clear, resulting in a contribution to the issue under discussion which is both valid and highly readable.

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