All Slavic: Do verbal prefixes change aspect?

arn00b

Senior Member
English
This stems from the discussion of "stars burn."

User @Awwal12 proposed "звезды горят, суперзвёзды выгорают" (zviózdy goriát, superzviózdy vygorájut)."

In Russian, prefixing the verb гореть (gorět') produces the perfective выгореть (výgorět'). The imperfective with the suffix is not identical to the unsuffixed verb, but is выгора́ть (vygorát').

Another example is писать (pisát' - write) > pod+pisát' (down/under + write) = sign (signature) or subscribe подписа́ть (podpisát') but this becomes perfective, so yvat' is needed to create the imperfective: подпи́сывать (podpísyvat').

Similarly, готовить (gotovit') when suffixed, such as in приготовить (prigotovit') becomes perfective and the imperfective is приготовля́ть (prigotovljat) or пригота́вливать (prigotavlivat'). So suffixes like -ivat/-yvat or stem ablaut (gotov > gotav) make imperfectives out of the perfectives.

Serbo-Croatian too - gorjeti + sa = sagorjeti (perfective) > sagorijevati (imperfective).

User @ilocas2 proposed "hvězdy září, superhvězdy zazáří" - the prefixed verbs are identical to the unprefixed form, not needing something like -ivat or anything of that sort.

Is my assumption correct? Does the prefix not change the aspect?

I do know that one of the Sorbian languages is experiencing a shift whereby younger generations don't perceive prefixes to change the aspect of the verb. This may be partially influenced by German, but from what I understand, (using BCS as an example), younger generations see (and use) iz + kazati (iskazati) as parallel to aus + sagen (aussagen), and the imperfectivized iskazivati as habitual rather than present. (I go, I sometimes/often go as opposed to I am going).

So, how is it in your language?
Do prefixes change the aspect of the verb to perfective, or do they just add meaning without changing anything in time (like English or German: outrun, aus-gehen, etc)?

Are there exceptions to this? Do verbal prefixes perfectivize verbs of motion only? Are foreign words that end in -ovat'/evat' that are then prefixed immune to perfectivization?

Was this (prefixing a verb creates a perfective) always the case in Slavic? Did some languages lose this or did some develop it?

Is it changing in your language, as it is now in Sorbian?
 
  • Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    Yes, adding the prefix usually changes aspect in Slovenian (may also change the meaning), and then you have to change the verb again to obtain the orginal aspect:

    pisati (impf) > podpisati (pf) >podpisovati (impf)
    nesti (impf) > prenesti (pf) > prenašati (impf) -- this one is actually formed from "nositi"
    kopati (impf) > izkopati (pf) > izkopavati (impf)
    bosti (impf) > prebosti (pf) > prebadati (impf)

    Note that forms *pisovati, *našati, *kopavati, *badati can't exist on their own.
     

    bibax

    Senior Member
    Czech (Prague)
    Yes, adding the prefix usually changes aspect in Slovenian (may also change the meaning), and then you have to change the verb again to obtain the orginal aspect:
    Similarly in Czech:

    psáti (impf) > podepsati (pf) > podepisovati (impf)
    nésti, nositi (impf) > přenésti (pf) > přenášeti (impf)
    kopati (impf) > zakopati (pf) > zakopávati (impf)
    kopnouti (pf) > zakopnouti (pf) > zakopávati (impf) ! zakopati and zakopnouti have different meaning;

    As you can see there is an exception: the verbs with the suffix -nou-/-nu- are already perfective (in most cases):

    klekati (impf): kleknouti (pf) > pokleknouti (pf) > poklekávati (impf) - to kneel (down), to genuflect;
    bodati (impf): bodnouti (pf) > probodnouti (pf) > probodávati (impf) - to stab, to pierce, to sting;

    As for zářiti, it is imperfective, zazářiti is perfective, the imperfective counterpart to zazářiti would be again zářiti:

    zářiti (impf) > zazářiti (pf) > [zářiti], accidentally there is no habitual/repetitive/iterative form in use;
    but
    zářiti (impf) > vyzářiti (pf) > vyzařovati (impf) - to emit;
    zářiti (impf) > prozářiti (pf) > prozařovati (impf) - to shine through;

    If we use hořeti instead of zářiti:
    hořeti (impf) > vyhořeti (pf) > vyhořívati (impf)

    Hvězdy hoří (impf). Hvězdy jednou vyhoří (pf). Hvězdy pomalu vyhořívají (impf).
     
    Last edited:

    Hachi25

    Member
    Serbo-Croatian
    Is my assumption correct? Does the prefix not change the aspect?

    Yes, it does, but it's not so simple. This part of Slavic languages is very complex and cannot be explained with generalization as there's impossible to find one explanation to cover all possible examples.

    When added to the verbs, prefixes can change verb aspect, verb meaning or sometimes both. But the main problem for non-Slavic speakers is probably that part when both the aspect and the meaning change, because then you can't revert the aspect without changing the meaning if you don't create another verb. So there is rarely 1:1 ratio when dealing with perfective and imperfective verbs, it is more often 1:2 in favor of imperfective verbs. In other words, if a change in aspect also changes the meaning, then the next change in aspect has to keep the new meaning, so that's why another imperfective verb is formed.

    Here's a couple of examples:
    In Russian, 'писать' is imperfective and it means 'to write'. But its particular perfective form 'подписать' also changes the meaning, it's not just 'to finish with writing', it's 'to sign'. And if you want to change the aspect to 'to be in the process of signing', you can't revert to 'писать' because it doesn't carry that meaning and that's how 'подписывать' is created.

    The same logic applies to Serbo-Croatian. The verb 'gorjeti' is complicated due to various reasons (root changes, accent shifts and other), so I'll take some other example. The verb 'živjeti' is good for this, it's imperfective and it means 'to live'. It is possible to make many perfective forms from it, but let's take two of them:
    1. The first would be 'preživjeti', 'to survive'. If you want to change its aspect to imperfective, it would become 'preživljavati', 'to be in the act of surviving'.
    2. The second one could be 'zaživjeti', 'to start living, to become alive'. This one is the real example of changing only the aspect, not the meaning, so its imperfective form is again 'živjeti', there is no verb *zaživljavati.

    Are there exceptions to this? Do verbal prefixes perfectivize verbs of motion only? Are foreign words that end in -ovat'/evat' that are then prefixed immune to perfectivization?
    Yes, there are. They have nothing to do with verbs of motion (especially not in the South Slavic group, where they are completely irrelevant as a category), but you're on the right track with loan words. There are no verbs that would be immune to perfectivization, because it is very much needed in Slavic languages, but, for example, in standard Serbo-Croatian, loan words ending in -irati are considered to be both imperfective and perfective. In our terminology those verbs are called 'dvovidni glagoli', 'double-aspect verbs'. So the verb 'koncentrirati se' (from German 'konzentrieren') has both aspects. The problem is that many native speakers feel it like an imperfective one, therefore its perfective variant 'skoncentrirati se' exists in spoken word, although it's still not considered correct.
    There are also some 'double-aspect verbs' that are native to the language, such as 'ručati', 'večerati' or 'sanjati', and with them you need a context to determine their aspect.

    Was this (prefixing a verb creates a perfective) always the case in Slavic? Did some languages lose this or did some develop it?
    No, the whole forming of the aspect category in Slavic languages is connected with the loss of various past tenses. As aorist and imperfect started to vanish from languages, something else had to take on the role of indicating whether the action is finished or not. That 'something else' was the aspect, and that's also why standard Serbo-Croatian has a rule that aorist can be formed only from perfective verbs and imperfect from the imperfective ones. That was not always the case because there was a time when prefixing a verb didn't change its aspect.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Are there exceptions to this?
    In Russian the exceptions mostly cover the verbs of iterative movement combined with most (but not all) prefixes (cf. imp. бе́гать - imp. забега́ть - perf. забе́гать), plus some verbs of foreign origin combined with some prefixes (imp. финанси́ровать - perf. & imp. недофинанси́ровать).
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    No, the whole forming of the aspect category in Slavic languages is connected with the loss of various past tenses.
    Well, such wording might be misenterpreted, I am afraid. :) Sure prefixes played a great role in the verbal aspectology of the proto-Slavic language. However, early Slavic languages demonstrate not exactly the current "perfective vs. imperfective" opposition, but rather the opposition between imperfective verbs and verbs of the common aspect (which might play both perfective and imperfective roles).
     
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