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Auteur: Marko SIMONOVIC


Exponence, productivity and default pattern - A study of verb aspect in Serbo-Croatian

Abstract/Résumé: We are reporting on work in progress on the productivity of derivational morphology in Serbo-Croatian verbs, most prominently aspect morphology. Our data set consists of borrowed verbs, recent innovations and nonce derivations. Accounting for our data set, we will revisit the notions of derivation, productivity and default pattern applying a novel, data-driven methodology. As a result, a novel picture will emerge showing that conceptualising the exponence of verb aspect as essentially entangled with other syntactic properties enables a better account of the data than treating it as a separate category. The three data sets which we address in our analysis show different derivational patterns. First, we are looking at the borrowing pattern established for English verbs. In these verbs, the stable pattern is that –ovati (in Serbian e.g. unzipovati "to unzip") and –ati (in Croatian, e.g. unzipati) are attached to the English stem to yield a biaspectual verb. Second, we are looking at a small set of recently lexicalised innovations (mostly related to new technologies) and the patterns surfacing in them. In this subset, there is no dominant derivational pattern and the suffixes used in borrowing (-ovati and -ati) account for only a small subset of cases. Moreover, when these suffixes are used, they derive a verb with a single aspect (typically imperfective). Finally, our third data set consists of nonce derivations (from nouns and adjectives), elicited from native speakers. In this data set, there is also an overwhelming variety of surfacing patterns and a strong tendency for verbs to have single aspect. In order to account for the data, we are zooming out and asking what are the expected morphological exponents in each of the three subsets based on the overall SC verb system. What are the good candidate morphemes for the default verbaliser/perfectiviser/imperfectiviser among numerous possibilities provided by the system? In the emergent picture, we shall see that the concept of derivation might be a somewhat misleading metaphor for verb aspect formation in SC. Aspect will be shown to be entangled with other lexical properties (e.g. argument structure, lexical selection) and therefore not isolatable in terms of morphological exponence. In sum, we are showing that a default pattern emerges as a result of complex interaction of several factors in the specific context, so that the language as a whole has no default. Moreover, we shall show that the pattern encountered in loanword integration cannot be directly related to those encountered in the native system, which goes counter common assumptions in loanword research.