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Verbal aspect as applied to Slovak

  Tags: Slovak | Grammar
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ChristianVlcek
Bilingual
Senior Member
Netherlands
Joined 3111 days ago

133 posts - 11 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Slovak*, Ukrainian, Irish, German, Russian

 
 Message 1 of 7
12 April 2010 at 11:11pm | IP Logged 
Does anyone have a set of rules/examples exaplaining the usage of perfective vs. imperfective verbs in Slovak? The explanations I've found in Beginning Slovak don't really quite clarify it for me.

Also, is there somewhere where I can find a list of perfective/imperfective verb pairs?



Chung
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 Message 2 of 7
13 April 2010 at 6:56am | IP Logged 
Unfortunately I've never come across a totally satisfactory description in Slovak (I do know what you're talking about when referring to that description in Beginning Slovak. It's a bit open-ended)

You may want to read this from Wikipedia. I found it to be reasonably helpful even though it uses examples from Polish and BCMS/Serbo-Croatian. It has a list of criteria used in Polish to determine the verb's aspect (the criteria are rather similar to Slovak's)

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_aspect#Slavic_languages

You could also try to understand the generalities of aspect by reading Swan’s description in his online grammar manual for Polish (look at Chapter 11 or p. 269-275 of the book in particular)

polish.slavic.pitt.edu/grammar.pdf

I apologize that this is for Polish rather than Slovak and Swan's description here may strike you as being similar to how he describes things in "Beginning Slovak". However the generalities and the guidelines that he presents for Polish are largely applicable to how aspectual choice works in Slovak.

There's also an online handout for Czech that gives some hints about imperfective and perfective verbs. It's not perfect since it's for Czech, but Czech is even closer to Slovak than Polish is so you may find it to be somewhat helpful.

www.lsa.umich.edu/slavic/dept/webbasedlanguage/czech/Grammar /142grammar.doc#imperf

I've never been able to find a comprehensive list of Slovak verbs in their aspectual pairs. The best that I've been able to find is in the glossaries of Colloquial Slovak which do show the aspectual pairs for verbs but it is restricted to verbs introduced in the textbook. The next best option is to check the online monolingual Slovak dictionary from 1959-1968 "Slovník slovenského jazyka" as it does present verbs with the aspectual counterpart.

To find out a verb's aspectual pair on this online dictionary do the following:

1) Go to http://slovniky.juls.savba.sk/
2) At the top of the screen, make sure that the box to the left of "SSJ" is checked off.
3) Run a search for any verb in the search field (use piť (to drink) as an example)
4) Once the dictionary has finished the search, scroll down the screen to see the boxed entry under "Slovník slovenského jazyka" (SSJ).
5) The top of SSJ's boxed entry should have the verb in bold orange text (in this case piť).
6) Beside it you will see in green italicized text 'nedok' (imperfective) or 'dok' (perfective). With piť you should see nedok.
7) At the bottom of SSJ's boxed entry you should see any related frequentative or iterative verbs (by definition these are imperfective) and these are marked with the italicized green abbreviation opak.
8) Any related perfective or imperfective verb will be shown in its infinitive form in bold orange font beside green italicized text dok (perfective) or nedok (imperfective). For piť, you should see in SSJ’s boxed entry that the perfective counterpart is vypiť with meaning nos. 1 and 3.

The official warning on the website is that this dictionary (SSJ) is no longer considered to be the authoritative manual on contemporary Slovak (by Slovak purists mind you). The ordinary Joe may chuckle at some of the older definitions shown for some words in SSJ's database but the grammatical hints or verb stems as presented are still applicable as far as I and my Slovak friends can tell). SSJ has been supplanted by a newer monolingual dictionary BUT for purposes of finding out inflectional patterns, it fits the bill since it's still "correct" as inflections have changed little if at all in the 40-odd years since SSJ was published. The replacement for the old SSJ is a multi-volume set of monolingual dictionaries which is not expected to be fully released until at least 2015, if I remember correctly.

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. I feel your pain as I also know how tough it is to learn Slovak independently for want of the extensive inventory of material that we can draw on for say Czech, Polish, Russian or even Serbo-Croatian.



Miuko
Triglot
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Slovakia
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Speaks: Czech, Slovak*, English
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 Message 3 of 7
13 April 2010 at 10:23am | IP Logged 
"If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. I feel your pain as I also know how tough it is to learn Slovak independently for want of the extensive inventory of material that we can draw on for say Czech, Polish, Russian or even Serbo-Croatian.''

Interesting how can be hard for someone far away study such a language. Me, Slovak, with the pure ''national pride'' can help with the study of Slovak very easily. What others take hours or days, for me it's a question of minutes- searching my cd library, my library of books on my computer, even online there are loads of things if you know where to serch!



ChristianVlcek
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Netherlands
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Studies: Slovak*, Ukrainian, Irish, German, Russian

 
 Message 4 of 7
13 April 2010 at 2:39pm | IP Logged 
Thanks Chung. I'll have a look at the Polish-Czech stuff. I use that online dictionary sometimes, but I never noticed it has the dokonalý/nedokonalý notation. Cool.

The thing is, my understanding of aspect from my grammars is very open ended, and when I speak with my family it's ususally a hazy paradigm on where you make that distinction in use. There are certain situations in which I would use a verb becuase "That's how mum says it" which I guess is perfectly fine, but if you're trying to move beyond day-to-day usage, it becomes a bit of a problem.

Miuko, thanks!

Edited by ChristianVlcek on 13 April 2010 at 7:58pm



Splog
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anthonylauder.c
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 Message 5 of 7
13 April 2010 at 3:13pm | IP Logged 
The main problem with getting your head around verbal aspect is, as you say, getting a feel for when to use perfective vs imperfective. Although their are basic rules about focusing on the goal vs an unfolding action, and so on, these only scratch the surface since there are plenty of times you will be left scratching your head wondering why one aspect was used over another.

The best help I found for studying Czech was work by Laura Janda (you can find her papers on the internet) who seems to have spent almost her whole career tackling this thorny issue of how to "feel" aspects (rather than just learn rules). One quite useful concept she has come up with is a distinction between solids and fluids - that will really twist your brain until it clicks :-)

In terms of a list of verb "pairs" for slovak, I don't know one. Maybe the best you can get is this (rather good) book on 401 Czech Verbs



ChristianVlcek
Bilingual
Senior Member
Netherlands
Joined 3111 days ago

133 posts - 11 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Slovak*, Ukrainian, Irish, German, Russian

 
 Message 6 of 7
13 April 2010 at 7:55pm | IP Logged 
Hrm, that distinction between solid and fluid seems interesting. Have you got a specific work I should look up concerning that? Or any work in particular that sticks out?



Splog
Diglot
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Czech Republic
anthonylauder.c
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1062 posts - 2210 votes 
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 Message 7 of 7
13 April 2010 at 8:24pm | IP Logged 
ChristianVlcek wrote:
Hrm, that distinction between solid and fluid seems interesting. Have you got a specific work I should look up concerning that? Or any work in particular that sticks out?


This one is a good starting point.



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