Mapping between domains. The aspect-modality interaction in Russian.

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7 Citations (Scopus)


This paper deals with the assignment of aspect in Russian modal constructions with adverbial or adjectival predicatives and impersonal verbs that combine with an infinitive. Unlike previous accounts, this paper takes a strictly corpus-based, quantitative approach within which corpus data on the relationship between aspect and modality are modeled using mixed effects logistic regression. Moreover, the results are cognitively motivated.

The data suggest that aspect choice is predicted best by a newly introduced variable—generic vs. specific ‘State of Affairs applicability’—and not by modality type, as was previously assumed. Furthermore, the empirical evidence reveals a preference of imperfective infinitives for conveying deontic meanings and of perfective infinitives for expressing dynamic modality; this runs counter to most assumptions in the literature.

From a cognitive linguistic point of view, the use of aspect in modal contexts as mediated by State of Affairs applicability is a case of analogical mapping between domains. In performing this cognitive operation, speakers of Russian appear to be guided by the deep similarities between the two domains: both perfective aspect and dynamic modality are bounded or marked in some respect, while imperfective aspect and deontic modality remain unmarked and unbounded. This similarity in turn has given rise to the very strong tendency to use the imperfective aspect to signal deonticity, and the perfective to render dynamic modality.
Original languageEnglish
Article number249
Pages (from-to)249-269
JournalRussian Linguistics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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