Aspectual and Modal Mismatch in Romance and Greek

RINI/TUTEN HISPANIC/ROMANCE LINGUISTICS

The use of the indicative and the subjunctive in Spanish in temporal clauses corresponds to semantic differences that may be considered aspectual rather than modal. For example, in sentence (1a) the present indicative in the “when” clause expresses habitual (imperfective) aspect, while sentence (1b) features a present subjunctive that with perfective value. In order to explore to what extent these distinctions are conventionalized traits of Spanish morphosyntax rather than expected interpretations of given combinations of semantic and modal values, this paper examines corresponding structures in two other Indo-European languages. Portuguese differs crucially from its close sibling in that it has an additional type of subjunctive, the so-called future subjunctive (2b). Meanwhile, Greek presents patterns similar but not identical to those of Spanish, suggesting that the Spanish patterns are not simply the inevitable consequence of the verbal categories available. If this analysis is correct, then the Spanish data constitute examples of what I have called “morphological mismatch,” or an inconsistency between the morphology and the semantics of certain combinations of forms.

 

Spanish

1a

Comemos cuando mis padres vienen (present indicative).

1b

Comemos cuando mis padres vengan (present subjunctive).

Portuguese

2a

Comemos quando meus pais vêm (present indicative).

2b

Comemos quando meus pais vierem (future subjunctive).

Greek

3a

Tróme ótan ftánun i gonís mu (present).

3b

Tróme ótan ftásun i gonís mu (present subjunctive).

glosses

1a, 2a, 3a

“We eat when my parents come.”

1b, 2b, 3b

“We (will) eat when my parents come.”

 

Track: 

  • Hispanic Linguistics