January 14, 2022 - 3:00pm

Kyumin Kim (Chungbuk National University) – Lexical aspect in Korean and preliminary cross-linguistic comparison

This paper investigates lexical aspect, i.e., the internal temporal properties of the event described by a VP. In particular, this paper aims to characterize lexical aspect of an article-less language such as Korean with a focus on different types of object NPs specific to the language.

I first present how different types of nominal objects in Korean interact with verbs to give rise to telic interpretation of the event VP, which has not been detailed in Korean literature. I discuss the result from an online judgement task on the meaning of an event VP in Korean, which is based on 13 native speakers of Korean. Building on the result from the online judgement task, I propose that in Korean the presence of quantity of a nominal in the event VP is crucial to elicit a telic interpretation of the event VP, regardless of whether or not the quantity of the object is specified. The result also suggests that lexical aspect in Korean cannot be characterized in a similar manner to lexical aspect in English, a language that has an article. For example, the result shows that the time adverbial phrases such as ‘in/for X time’ does not grammatically distinguish telic or atelic interpretation of event VP.

I also conduct a brief cross-linguistic comparison in lexical aspect among article-less languages in order to find out to what extent the role of quantity in lexical aspect in Korean is similar to or different from those languages. The comparison shows that Korean does not pattern the same with other article-less languages such as Mandarin, Vietnamese, or Slavic. Unlike these languages, [Quantity] feature on an object in Korean does play a role in the event interpretation of a VP as the findings from the online judgement task shows. The consequences of this paper suggest that there is more variation in lexical aspect among article-less languages than the current literature suggests.

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