THEORY: Stative verbs and punctuality
|From:||Eric Christopherson <rakko@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, December 10, 2008, 7:09|
I am wondering if any language has a verb that can be analyzed as
both stative and punctual. Everything I read on the subject seems to
say that stative verbs cannot distinguish punctual from durative,
because states inherently last some amount of time. However, I have
thought of a few examples that might be punctual statives:
- "The light flashed red" (e.g. it was glowing green, but then
momentarily turned red and then back to green) - I don't have a
problem regarding this as really an event rather than a state; but I
think it would be cool for a language to innovate by taking the
stative "to be red" and applying to it punctual eventive morphology.
How likely is this?
- "For a brief moment I felt angry" - Similar to the flashing example.
- "When I glanced at the light, it was red" - This one I'm having a
tough time with. If you only looked at the light for an instance, you
could see that it was red, but you wouldn't know if it was red before
or after that glance. Thus we can't really treat the color of the
light as something that *happens*, as we can with the flashing
example. How would languages with a clear distinction between stative
and eventive treat this?
- "Tiger Jr. came to the shelter when his owner had too many cats and
couldn't keep him" - I saw this on the Web today. Clearly the owner's
state of having too many cats had a duration, but in that sentence is
"had too many cats" eventive or stative? It's almost like it should
say "... *because* his owner had too many cats ...".
Thanks for any insights.