Hindi and English Perfectives

Sudha Arunachalam, Anubha Kothari


It has been observed for several languages, including many South Asian
languages, that some perfective forms do not entail completion of the
events they describe. We explore this phenomenon in the current study,
contributing experimental and cross-linguistic perspectives. We
compare perfective interpretations in Hindi, which has a perfective
form that does not entail completion of its event, with perfective
interpretations in English, which does not have such a form. Using a
variety of predicate types, we test the predictions of a semantic
account of perfective interpretation, which predicts clear-cut
differences between Hindi and English as well as clear patterns for
certain types of predicates, and a semantic account, which predicts a
much greater role for context as well as similar patterns across
languages. Our results provide support for (a) the important of
context in perfective interpretation, and (b) considerable similarity
in interpretation between Hindi and English. We hope the results
indicate an important role for experimental investigation into
semantic phenomena.

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