Hindi and English Perfectives

  • Sudha Arunachalam Northwestern University
  • Anubha Kothari Stanford University


It has been observed for several languages, including many South Asianlanguages, that some perfective forms do not entail completion of theevents they describe. We explore this phenomenon in the current study,contributing experimental and cross-linguistic perspectives. Wecompare perfective interpretations in Hindi, which has a perfectiveform that does not entail completion of its event, with perfectiveinterpretations in English, which does not have such a form. Using avariety of predicate types, we test the predictions of a semanticaccount of perfective interpretation, which predicts clear-cutdifferences between Hindi and English as well as clear patterns forcertain types of predicates, and a semantic account, which predicts amuch greater role for context as well as similar patterns acrosslanguages. Our results provide support for (a) the important ofcontext in perfective interpretation, and (b) considerable similarityin interpretation between Hindi and English. We hope the resultsindicate an important role for experimental investigation intosemantic phenomena.