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Methodologies in Semantic Fieldwork$
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M. Ryan Bochnak and Lisa Matthewson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190212339

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190212339.001.0001

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Documenting and Classifying Aspectual Classes Across Languages

Documenting and Classifying Aspectual Classes Across Languages

(p.75) 3 Documenting and Classifying Aspectual Classes Across Languages
Methodologies in Semantic Fieldwork

Leora Bar-el

Oxford University Press

Descriptions of aspect systems cross-linguistically and of individual languages tend to focus on variation in grammatical aspect rather than lexical aspect, or aspectual classes. Although Vendler’s (1967) classification is often assumed to be universal, recent research reveals that the semantics of these classes is subject to cross-linguistic variation. Fieldworkers who do not investigate aspectual classes are likely to miss their potential variation in those languages. Fieldworkers who do investigate aspectual classes tend to rely on standard tests for classification (e.g., Dowty 1979). Many of these tests, however, are language-specific and depend on metalinguistic intuitions. This chapter proposes that fieldworkers need a toolkit that enables them to document the full range of variation in the inventory of aspectual classes. Investigating commonly held assumptions about aspectual classes and their documented variation, this chapter outlines the types of contrasts that should be examined when conducting cross-linguistic research on aspectual classification.

Keywords:   aspectual classes, aspectual classification tests, questionnaires, fieldworker’s toolkit, semantic variation

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