Introduction: the role of the lexicon in actionality

African and Middle Eastern Languages, University of Helsinki ,Helsinki ,Finland
Crane, Thera Marie;
Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of California ,Berkeley ,USA
Nichols, Johanna;
Department of English Studies, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Persohn, Bastian

Actionality (also referred to by labels such as “lexical aspect” or “aktionsart”) is the semantic dimension that encodes the constituent phases and boundaries of situations. Despite its central role in aspectual interpretation, careful language-specific descriptions and typological surveys of actional systems have been rare thus far. In this introduction, we describe the steps that lead to the compilation of the present special issue. We discuss several theoretical and methodological challenges that both field linguists and typologists face when investigating actional systems in the languages of the world and we point out some of the important insights to be gained from such endeavors. We then proceed to give an overview of the individual and varied contributions that make up this issue.


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