The contentious issue of aspect

I have finished reading Aspect and have observations to make. Aspect has been called one of the most disputed notions in linguistics. Elsewhere on this blog I have described the hilarious acrimony that broke out among Spanish teachers at a session on the preterit and imperfect at an ACTFL conference. Not only could Spanish teachers not agree with each other but native speakers disagreed with each other.

Most interesting to me were the final few lines where Chatterjee states that in “observations of children that aspectual distinctions are ontogenetically prior to the acquisition of a sense of past, present and future. This lends some validity [and, I would add, vitality – pb] to the evaluation of aspect as a conceptual linguistic universal despite its indifferent morphological expression in the world’s languages.” Throughout the book there is no mention of Creole languages; in them we see the priority given to aspect over tense.


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