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Title: The imperfect-preterite opposition in romance languages
Author: Todea, Ana Maria
ISNI:       0000 0004 5216 1850
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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An aspect of the Romance languages that defies neat linguistic analysis is tense usage. In particular, students of Romance languages as well as grammarians have found it difficult to provide a consistent explanation for the imperfect - preterite opposition. Two main points of contention concern (i) the question of whether the two forms have an inherent aspectual content and (ii) the structure and role of lexical aspectual information in determining the overall meaning of a sentence. While the attempts at explaining French and Spanish usages of the imperfect and the preterite are numerous, hardly any work has been done in the interpretation of Romanian data. Furthermore, a general assumption that the same form - function opposition holds across Romance languages has led to cross-linguistic differences rarely being examined. I argue that the imperfect and the preterite do have an inherent aspectual content. However, in opposition to previous accounts, I maintain that the preterite does not provide a ‘closed’ viewpoint and that an atelic eventuality described by the verb phrase in the preterite can continue up to the present moment. I propose a description of the imperfect - preterite opposition that includes finer distinctions of lexical aspect based on its constituent stage structure. These finer lexical aspectual distinctions allow the identification of an area of divergence in the use of the two forms in French, Spanish, and Romanian: the preterite was found to be used more widely with states in Romanian than in French and Spanish.
Supervisor: Watson, Ian; Maiden, Martin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Linguistics ; Romance languages ; French ; Romanian ; Spanish ; tense ; aspect ; imperfect ; preterite ; perfective ; imperfective ; perfect ; Romance