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What is aspect?

Montrul & Salaberry “Different perspectives which a speaker can take and express with regard to
the temporal course of some event, action, process, etc.”
Merriam-Webster “the nature of the action of a verb as to its beginning, duration, completion, or
repetition and without reference to its position in time”


How is aspect expressed?

Lexically (determined by syntactic and semantic tests)


What is tense?

A category that places a situation in time with respect to the moment of speech.


Lexical Aspect categories

1. States--ser, estar, tener, querer
2. Activities--correr, construir, pintar
3. Accomplishment --"correr una milla", "construir una casa", "pintar un cuadro"
4. Achievement--morirse, darse cuenta de algo


Which of these tense aspects are telic?

Accomplishments and Achievements


What does telic mean?

Events with an inherent endpoint or endpoints


What does atelic mean?

Events w/o an inherent endpoint


Which tense categories are atelic?



Grammatical Aspect (perfective-imperfective)

Perfective "bounded" = beginning and end of a situation (inceptive, punctual, or completive)

Imperfective "unbounded" = ongoing (durative or habitual)


Lexical Aspect Hypothesis

attempts to explain the observed correlation between tense/aspect
morphemes and lexical aspectual classes according to the
Relevance Principle [...] and the Congruence Principle” (Montrul &
Salaberry 52)
Suggests that verbal morphology, in early stages of SLA, encodes only
relevant information (inherent aspect) and not tense or grammatical


Developmental Stages (based on Andersen 1986)

States: Present >Imperfect> Pret/Imperfect

Activities: Present>Imperfect>Pret/Imperf


Achievements: Present>Preterite>Pret/Imperf


Evidence for Andersen's Developmental Stages

Hasbún (1995) 80 L1 English speakers, Pret. did not expand from telics

Lafford (1996) preportion of past tense-present tense was higher for telic verbs across all levels

Salaberry (1999) no uses of imperfect in lowest level (20 L2 Spanish students, 5 levels)


Past tense morphology

Verbal endings (regular-irregular) in past tense marking
Irregular verbs: frequent, perceptual salient morphological differences
Regular verbs: -ed ending may be hard to process
Prediction: more frequent and irregular verbs “will appear first in the development of past
marking of adult instructed L2 learners” (p. 63)
Saliency-foregrounding Hypothesis (Lafford, 1996:16): “phonologically salient
verb forms are used to reflect salient (foregrounded) actions in L2 narrative
discourse” in Spanish (p. 63)
Studies in different languages and environments → help to look at the effect of perceptual
saliency in the development of past tense verbal morphology.
“The effect of learning environment”
Natural interactional vs. classroom-only settings
Classroom instruction: analysis of verbal endings (aspectual, tense & mode meaning)
Natural learning: no attention to endings to mark tense and aspect. Attention to discursive and
pragmatic means
Reason: differences of input, requirements (formal & functional) and interactional frameworks