Temporal Information and Event Bounding Across Languages: Evidence from Visual World EyeTracking from


  • Serge Minor UiT The Arctic University of Norway
  • Natalia Mitrofanova UiT The Arctic University of Norway
  • Gustavo Guajardo UiT The Arctic University of Norway
  • Myrte Vos UiT The Arctic University of Norway
  • Gillian Catriona Ramchand UiT The Arctic University of Norway




We explore the  typological question of what the  interpretation of grammatical perfectivity is,  and how it connects to the related aktionsartal notion of  boundedness/telicity on the one hand, and the tense category  Past on the other.  We report on a comparative experimental paradigm of past tense accomplishment sentences in Russian, Spanish and English respectively, in which we use an online visual world paradigm  -- comparing looks to an ongoing representation (OE) with a result state representation (CE) -- to track the triggering of entailments of culmination during auditory processing.  In all three languages, the  results revealed at-ceiling preference for OE in the imperfective condition both in the offline task  and the online gaze patterns. In the perfective condition, we found robust differences. In Russian, the choice of the result state (CE) picture in the offline task was at ceiling (95 %); for Spanish it was high, but not quite at ceiling (83 %); in English there was no statistical preference for the CE picture in the Simple Past condition (54 %, not significantly different from chance, p=0.39). Analysis of the participants' online gaze patterns yielded parallel results.   Our results for  English suggest that even on telic predicates, the simple past form does not obligatorily enforce a completed-event interpretation, contrary to previous assumptions in the literature (Smith 1995).