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Extra resources for Aspect in Burmese: Meaning and function (Studies in Language Companion Series)

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Achievement and accomplishment verbs are composed of states or activities marked by a marker of change. INGR derives from ‘ingressive’ and codes punctual changes of state or activity, while BECOME codes changes which take place over a period of time and produce a change of state or activity. pane = OBJ break(TR) =FOLLOW= REAL [do´ (Max, ∅)] CAUSE [INGR kwwa´ (bdibauma)] Examples (11c-c′) and (11f-f′) are particularly interesting for my purposes. In (11c), the verb break is used intransitively to describe a state of affairs that lacks the expression of an overt agent while it shows the presence of an overt patient, identified by the subject.

There is also great variation in the way languages identify the Aktionsart of verbs. A change of state may be seen as occurring instantaneously in one language but as occurring over a period of time in another. For example, die in Burmese and Mandarin is punctual (achievement) while in English it is not necessarily so. quick = ADV ao = w,f/ Burmese e = t die = REAL ‘He died quickly’ (b) *Tā sĭ de kuài Mandarin ‘He died quickly’ Van Valin and LaPolla state that “… it is clear that determining the Aktionsart of a verb is not a matter of looking at the state of affairs it depicts; rather, it is a linguistic property which can be determined only by means of linguistic tests…” (VVLP 1997: 106).

More interestingly, the semantic specification of the two verbs is further refined by the use of different operators, &oG|; [wa] ‘GO’ and &vdkuf [lai] ‘FOLLOW’ (derived from the main verbs oG|; [wa] ‘go’ and vdkuf [lai] ‘follow’) which mark punctual changes of state that are spontaneous or 25 STRUCTURE OF BURMESE INDEPENDENT CLAUSES induced respectively. I hypothesise that it is the semantics (or Aktionsart) of the sources of these two operators that has contributed to their use as inchoative markers in specific contexts.

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