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Aspectual coercion in Bulgarian negative imperatives

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Abstract

Slavic languages feature negative imperative constructions (NI) with a genuine verbal imperative inflection. Bulgarian constitutes a partial exception, prohibiting NIs with perfective verbs, even in preventive NIs, for which Slavic languages utilise perfective verbs. In this article we argue that Bulgarian NIs present a case of aspectual coercion (Moens & Steedman 1988). The overt coercion is due to the morpho-syntactic properties of the Bulgarian aspectual system, promoting secondary imperfectivization. The reasoning follows the cognitive approach of time categorisation (Klein 1994) and shows that the aspectual construal in NIs yields the temporal configuration of imperfective present in prohibitives, but a future interpretation in preventives. The aspectual restriction in Bulgarian arises from the inability of bare perfective verbs to express tense in the main clause, in contrast to other Slavic languages. The TAM system in Bulgarian converges towards analytic markings of distinct aspectual-temporal configurations minimising the functional load of perfective verbs

References

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