Aspectual competition and iterative contexts in contemporary Upper Sorbian

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Toops, Gary H.

Toops, Gary H. 2001. Aspectual competition and iterative contexts in contemporary Upper Sorbian. Journal of Slavic Lingustics, 9(1), p.127-154.


In Upper Sorbian, as in the other contemporary West Slavic languages, iterative/ habitual actions (acts or events) can be expressed by both imperfective and perfective verbs. Aspectual competition in iterative contexts is therefore complete. Based on the results of a questionnaire that incorporated a variety of iterative contexts and that was administered to native speakers of Upper Sorbian in July-August 2000, the article demonstrates that a number of lexical, stylistic, and morphosemantic factors condition aspect selection by today's native speakers of Upper Sorbian. This is shown to hold true across generational lines, whether today's speakers of Upper Sorbian instantiate verbal aspect as a strict imperfective-perfective opposition; or whether-in the case of prefixed verbs and their stem-suffixed (formerly imperfective) counterparts-they instantiate a quasi-aspectual indeterminate-determinate opposition. The article thus counters claims made by some Slavists that verbal aspect in contemporary Upper Sorbian is obsolete, functionally restricted, or subordinate to other grammatical categories such as tense.

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