A star is drawn: Testing the culmination inferences of Russian perfective accomplishments

Natasha Kasher, Aviya Hacohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


It is a widely established view in the event-semantics literature that perfective (pfv) accomplishments denote culmination. It has also been increasingly recognized over the past decades that non-culminating interpretations of pfv accomplishments are more widely available than previously assumed. Hence, in many languages, the culmination inference carried by pfv accomplishments is defeasible. The Slavic pfv, on the other hand, has been consistently argued throughout the literature to enforce strict culmination requirements on telic accomplishments within its scope, such that non-culminating interpretations are entirely disallowed for such forms. Furthermore, in Slavic languages such as Russian, culmination is taken to be semantically entailed by pfv accomplishments, rather than defeasibly implicated. This is then used to explain the supposed contradiction created in (1), between the entailed culmination of the first clause, and its cancellation in the second clause. (1) Masha s’ela buterbrod (#no kusočeck ostavila). Masha pfv-ate-sg-f sandwich-acc but piece.small left. ‘Masha ate the/a sandwich (#but left a small piece).’ To our knowledge, there exists no prior attempt to systematically probe Russian speakers’ actual judgments regarding this assumed contradiction. The current study aims to fill this gap. Results from a gradable acceptability judgment task reveal that Russian speakers do in fact exhibit some degree of tolerance when presented with pfv accomplishments as descriptions of partially completed events. Moreover, these speakers provide high acceptability ratings for sentences in which the pfv accomplishment is followed by a cancellation phrase.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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