How light are aspectual meanings?

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The aim of the present article is to outline semantic relations between two grammaticalization phenomena in natural language: light verbs and lexical aspects. Section 1 provides the theoretical background necessary for the semantic investigations in the main part of the article. The central notions of lexical aspect, aktionsart, and light verb are discussed in this section. Section 2 deals with the linguistic material analyzed and explains the methodological procedure applied to that material. Dictionary glosses of Ukrainian verbs are used to evaluate the usefulness of various definitions of the semantic concepts discussed in Section 1 for the classification of lexical items. Special attention is put on approaches which use structures with light verbs occurring in the dictionary definitions of lexical items in order to classify these items. The specific features of the data material that have to be accounted for in any satisfactory attempt toward a classification of verbs based on this idea are presented and discussed in this section. In Section 3, the connection between lightness and frequency of occurrence will be investigated. Then two major semantic groups of light verbs are distinguished in subsection 3.2, namely, compensators and modifiers. The semantic relationships among light verbs will be discussed in subsection 3.3. In Section 4, the light verbs used in the lexical definitions of verbs belonging to the different Vendlerian categories are identified and classified into groups. Typical cases of lexicalized aspectual shifts with and without the participation of light verbs are presented. The correspondence between lexical aspects of verbs and the occurrence of certain light verbs in their dictionary definitions as well as the role of aktionsarten is dealt with in the final Section 5.


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