[PS-1.60] Processing of bi-aspectual verbs in Czech: Do they express grammatical aspect?

Chromy, J. . 1 , Matejka, S. 1 & Dotlacil, J. 2

1 Charles University in Prague
2 University of Groningen

Czech distinguishes grammatical (perfective and imperfective) and lexical aspect. Moreover, there is a specific group of bi-aspectual (BA) verbs which can be classified as both perfective (Pf) and imperfective (Ipf) because they can occur in contexts that are not compatible either with Pf or Ipf verbs.

Based on four self-paced reading experiments, we hypothesize that from the processing perspective bi-aspectual verbs are in fact aspectless. The main experiment examined the differences in reading times (RTs) of sentences distinguished only by their main clause verb. Every verb appeared in one of three forms: a BA verb - durative or punctual/iterative (akceptovat/to accept), or its Pf (prijmout/to accept), or Ipf (prijímat/to accept) equivalent. We tested their compatibility with dokud/until which is not compatible with Pf verbs. Linear mixed-effects model showed that BA verbs are processed differently than Pf verbs (based on RTs). Nevertheless, the other experiments showed that BA verbs can be also processed differently than Ipf verbs.

The experiments imply that BA verbs do not behave the same as Pf or Ipf verbs, and can be used in contexts in which Pf and Ipf verbs cannot. BA verbs seem to be grammatically aspectless, or at least aspectually underspecified.