There is no neutral aspect

Daniel Gordon Altshuler


This paper considers the Hindi -yaa and the Russian -yva, which share many properties that are characteristic of so-called "neutral aspect" – an aspect whose meaning generalizes across the perfective and imperfective. Proponents of neutral aspect assume that (im)perfectivity is defined in terms of reference to an event's completion. This paper refines this idea, distinguishing between an event that culminated and one that ceased to develop further. The latter notion comes from Landman's (1992) analysis of the progressive, which denotes a function from a set of events in the extension of the VP that it combines with to a set of event stages that develop into VP events according to a particular recipe. Building on Landman's analysis, I propose that a perfective operator is one that requires a maximal stage of a VP-event; an imperfective operator is one that requires a VP-event stage, but this stage need not be maximal. I show how this analysis allows us to analyze the Hindi -yaa and the Russian -yva as being perfective and imperfective respectively, without any reference to neutrality.


aspect, perfective, imperfective

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