A general question regarding Aspekt czasowników

Discussion in 'Polski (Polish)' started by kenjoluma, May 22, 2014.

  1. kenjoluma Senior Member

    Dear friends,

    I would like to ask you if there is any rules when making a perfect verb out of an imperfect one.

    You see, there are many prefixes you can apply to imperfect verbs, in order to make perfect verbs:

    "Z" can be applied to robić, so it will be zrobić.
    "Za" can be applied to czekać, so it will be zaczekać
    "Po" can be applied to szukać, so it will be poszukać
    "Na" can be applied to pisać, so it will be napisać...
    "O", "Prze", "Wy".. so on, so on...

    Sometimes strange exceptions such as dawać becoming dać, mówić becoming powiedzieć...

    pisać becomes napisać, but it also can be podpisać, which also can be podpisywać... so on, so on.

    I can see there is absolutely no rules in here. (IF there is, please share with me)

    My question is: is there any learning material, which I can use to get myself attuned to this... mess?

    I bought a Polish dictionary, but it's no good to learn those different verb aspects. It only contains noun and adjective declensions, and verb conjugations. Nothing for verb aspect pairs.
    Hopefully somebody can introduce to me some books I can read to study each verb's imperfect/perfect forms... or any good website?
    Or any tip you can give to me would be very much appreciated.

    Thank you very much.
  2. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    There are some historical explanations how the perfective and imperfective verbs have been developed, but there is absolutely no set of easy rules you can learn. The reason is that the diference between perfective and imperfective aspect is NOT GRAMMATICAL but LEXICAL. All stuff written in the languge manuals for foreigners about the topic is not helpful. The idea of "aspectual pairs" is concocted by inept language teachers. There is no system of neat pairs of perfective and imperfective verbs with the same mening, if some exist it is a handy accident.
    When you understand the lexicality of the verbal aspect system, you will stop calling it a mess, it is just a normal array of lexical items as in any other language.

    As far as I know, there is no material on the topic of verbal aspect in the web that is comperehensive and helpful enough for a beginner student of Polish.
    There may be some scholarly papers, but they usually require a more advanced command of the language, amd concentrate on chosen partial topics.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 24, 2014
  3. jasio Senior Member

    You may start reading with Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_aspect_in_Slavic_languages. The article covers Slavic languages in general, but most examples are in Polish anyway. You may also refer to the Polish article: http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspekt_(językoznawstwo).

    The system is indeed pretty complex, because:
    - there are many prefixes which turn imperfective verbs into perfective
    - the change sometimes modifies the meaning, and sometimes not
    - if the meaning is modified than you form imperfective form in a different way than when it is not
    - whether the prefix modifies the meaning depends on the verb, not (only) the prefix
    - some verbs are "naturally" perfective, and need imperfective counterpart
    - some verbs may be used in both perfective and imperfective contexts
    - as Ben Jamin stated, it's all based on the meaning of verbs, not their structure

    A Polish article mentioned above states that about 42% of aspectual pairs are created with z-/s-/ze-/se- (they are considered to be one prefix, differentiated depending on pronunciation), za- (23%), wy- (11%) and several others.

    To give you an example: let's take a verb 'pisać' (to write, imperfective). Using the prefixes you provided you may form:
    * napisać (to write, perfective)
    * spisać -> spisywać
    * zapisać -> zapisywać
    * popisać -> popisywać
    * opisać -> opisywać
    * przepisać -> przepisywać
    * wypisać -> wypisywać
    * podpisać -> podpisywać
    * dopisać -> dopisywać

    The first verb is an aspective pair with "pisać", while the other modify the basic meaning, for example (przepisać = rewrite, opisać = describe, podpisać = sign, etc. note that the latter verbs form aspectual pairs by using infix -yw- which also reflects repetitiveness (pisywać = write occasionally, from time to time). Please also note that this infix is changed to -uj- in inflected forms (pisuję, pisujesz, pisujemy). There are also some other infixes which may be used for this purpose, depending on verb.

    similarly with "czytać" (to read, imperfective)
    * przeczytać (to read, perfective)
    * sczytać -> sczytywać
    * poczytać
    * naczytać -> naczytywać
    * wyczytać -> wyczytywać

    If there are any rules, they may be complex enough, that using them for practical purposes would be impractical... I am affraid that the best solution is to learn all this mess by heart. :)

    I even don't know if there is any general test which could be applied to see if a particular verb is perfective or imperfective. A native speaker can form a present tense form of the verb and check if it really has a present or a future meaning, because imperfective verbs form future compound tense, while perfective verbs don't have present tense, and present tense-like structures are considered to be a simple future tense:

    czytam - będę czytał
    X - przeczytam

    piszę - będę pisał
    X - napiszę

    For the same reason, one can also create compund future form and check, if it makes any sens ("*będę napiszę" or "*będę przeczytam" are obviously incorrect, irritating and do not mean anything). I am affraid thought, that it has a limited usability for a foreigner.
  4. Szkot Senior Member

    UK English
    So that makes all the teachers of Slav languages (Polish and UK) and all the grammar books I have worked with 'inept', which some would say is demonstrated by the results in my case.

    It is of course over-simplistic to say that it is simply a grammatical concept, but equally it is over-simplistic at best to say 'it is just a normal array of lexical items as in any other language'. None of which will help kenjoluma, who would be sensible to go on believing in aspect pairs.

    In some cases the perfective has an added prefix; in some the ending varies, typically -ać/ić; in some the imperfective has an additional syllable with -w-; in some the vowel in the stem varies a/o; in some cases more than one of the above applies; occasionally there are totally different words which it is convenient to regard as a pair. There are patterns, but no rules.
  5. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    I have begun to write a simple (i hope) overview about the world of Polish (and Slavic) verb aspect.

    Here is the first part, which can be used as an introduction. More will follow.

    The old Slavic language (Common Slavic) had a simple past tense (imperfectum) and a perfect past tense (aorist). A completed action in the past was expressed using the Aorist tense. All verbs could be conjugated in all tenses. At that time there were already developed verbs with prepositional prefixes, but their use was similar to that in contemporary English, they was no system of perfective and imperfective verbs as in the contemporary Slavic languages. However, there were already old verbs that had different lexical aspect, and they were firmed through apophony (internal vowel shofts) or an inclitic “w”, like:
    siedzieć – siadać (sit – take a seat)
    siedzieć – sadzać (sit – seat)
    dać – dawać (give once – give many times).
    When the old tense system began to disappear (it has only been preserved in Bulgarian), there occurred a need to express the completeness of the action in another way. The solution was to oppose prefixed and unprefixed verbs to mark the perfective aspect.
    In this way the following opposition was created:

    Jeść – zjeść (to be eating/to eat usually – to eat up)
    Pić – wypić (to be drinking/to drink usually – to drink up)
    This system has however never developed into a “grammaticalized” system of adding prefixes or suffixes in a regular way. The obstacle was that the prefixed verbs were already abubdant and they used a lot of different prefixes. Moreover, they acquired a lot of different meanings, often very different from the original unprefixed verb, for example:
    konać* – przekonać (to finish – to convince), skonać (to die), wykonać (to perform), dokonać (to achieve). None of the verbs has the same meaning as the unprefixed verb, neither they have a narrowed meaning.
    * the verb konać in this meaning is now obsolete.
    The prefixed verbs have, however, often a closely related meaning, which is usually more precise (specialized) than the unprefixed verb.
    Example: budować (to build): zbudować, wybudować, rozbudować, dobudować, przebudować.
    Today an unprefixed imperfective verb can be in one of the following situations:

    1. There is only one corresponding prefixed verb that functions as a perfective counterpart (an aspectual pair)
    There are only very few verbs that conform to this pattern.

    2. There are many prefixed verbs that are used as a perfective counterpart for the unprefixed verb, but only one of them, having exactly the same meaning, forms a genuine aspectual pair. The rest have more or less deviating meaning.
    Pić – wypić, przepić, napić, dopić, nadpić

    3. There are many prefixed verbs that function as a perfective counterpart for the unprefixed verb, and none of them has exactly the same meaning and form a genuine aspectual pair. However, as they have a more specialized meaning, they are used as a perfective counterpart without causing a problem.
  6. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    The teachers may be good, generally, but only very few of them understand that the existence of pure and genuine aspectual pairs is rather an exception than a rule. Very few also explain that the aspect in Slavic languages has a lexical character, not grammatical. If you have met any of them, you are lucky.

    I hope that I can help kenjoluma with my explanation in a separate post.
  7. Szkot Senior Member

    UK English
    Coming to Russian at the age of 11, I discovered that the word for write was pisat', which was easy to understand, but also at the same time it was napisat', which was 'like wierd'. So the teacher explained it as an aspect pair, and off we went. Later I was taught that it is not so easy, that there is a lexical element, that czytać/przeczytać are not a simple pair, and so on. I suspect that my teachers knew fine well all the things that you have said, but mercifully I was spared any awareness of the existence of Common Slavonic until I was at university. You have to learn to walk before you can run, and aspect pairs is a good place to start.
  8. kenjoluma Senior Member

    Thanks for your replies.

    I already do understand there are two types of Czasowniki niedokonane vs. Czasowniki dokonane.
    (1) Podstawowa para aspektowa
    (2) Wtórna para aspektowa

    I believe when you guys say "it may change the meaning of the verbs", I think it means (2) wtórna para aspektowa.

    For example (1) Podstawowa para aspektowa contains pisać becoming napisać.
    (2) Wtórna para aspektowa contains pisać becoming odpisać or dopisać or podpisać. Right? So far so good?

    And, I do understand that in the case of (2) Wtórna para aspektowa, it is a completely different "lexicon", just like English word "stand" and "understand" are two different verbs (although they might have some connection in the etymological sense).

    But please understand, that I was purely talking about (1) Podstawowa para aspektowa. (Excuse me if I caused any confusion) And if there is no learning material to learn this as you say, I'd find that quite extraordinary.

    When learning a language, changing verb aspects is one of the basic things you must do. For example, when I know robić but not zrobić, then I think it's like I don't know half of conjugation of the verb, don't you agree? So, everytime I encounter a new Polish verb, I just study if it is a perfective verb or a imperfective verb, and then just move on? Not studying its pair? I think it's more impractical.
  9. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    I know that there is quite much about Polish grammar available at the net, but almost everything I found is very simplified, and can easily create confusion when the learner confronts the living language. I think that the classification you have just quoted is one of many possible. I personally prefer not to refer to "aspect pairs", but to "aspect families", containing one "nuclear" verb, and a number of prefixed verbs with different endings belonging to different aspects.

    You perhaps alreadyknow that in the case of Polish at least, the description using two aspects isa simplified one. In addition to perfective and imperfective verbs you willalso find verbs pertaining to "subaspects" or "side aspects",of which the most typical are:

    habitual(czytywać, jadać, siadywać)
    iterative (powyłamywać, powypisywać).

    In addition to the development: from the nuclear unprefixed imperfective verb to the prefixed perfective we have the next step: from the prefixed perfective verb to the prefixed imperfective verb with a modified ending.
    Example: pisać – przepisać – przepisywać (write – write a copy /perf/ - write a copy /imp/)

    Note: pisywać is another, parallel modification of pisać, and has a habitual aspect. The verb used in past (pisywałem) means “I used to write”, in present (pisuję) means “I write sometimes”.

    The problem is that no prefix or suffix or inclitic has clearly defined function, so the system remains lexical and can hardly ever get grammaticalized.
  10. jasio Senior Member

    It very much depends on how do you learn new words. For example, I would expect that a foreign-Polish dictionary contains both verbs from a primary aspectual pair, and often from secondary pairs, especially if their meaning is close: http://portalwiedzy.onet.pl/tlumacz.html?&qs=write&tr=ang-auto&rodz=og. Even google does this: https://translate.google.com/#en/pl/do. Ideally, they should be marked as such, but it's not always the case. On the other hand, Polish-foreign dictionaries often refer perfective verbs to their imperfective counterpards: http://ling.pl/slownik/polsko-angielski/zrobić.

    Ironically, foreign editions may have this aspect :))) done better than dictionaries published in Poland, because switching an aspect is intuitive for a native speaker, so including both aspects of every verb would double the dictionary size without giving any benefits for the Polish user. Actually, when I was learning Russian, I can't recall spending any significant amount of time on aspect, because it was farily intuitive for us - unlike inflection schemes for example.
  11. Lorenc Member

    Dear kenjoluma, as other people have told you there are no simple rules for turning an unprefixed (`simplex') imperfective verb into the corresponding prefixed perfective aspectual partner, although there are regularities and common patterns.
    There is a discussion of prefixation in Oscar Swan's `Grammar of contemporary Polish' (which you can find for free on the internet) in the section `perfective prefixation' and also a PhD thesis `Aspectual paring in Polish' by Młynarczyk which treats this issue at length. However, these are very academic discussions and may not be of practical benefit unless, perhaps, you already know Polish rather well. Swan states that the most common perfectivizing prefixes are po-, u-, z- and za-, but I don't know if anyone has bothered doing a detailed statistical analysis of the occurences in, say, the 1000 most frequent Polish verbs which form perfective forms in this way. Personally I think that prefixed verbs in general are the trickiest part of Polish grammar and it may easily lead to misunderstandings if you don't use the correct verb (for example założyć and złożyć or zająć and pojąć have very different meanings but for us foreigners it is possible to mix them up). Curiously enough Poles are usually completely oblivious of how much of a burden this is for foreigners and when they asked about the difficulties of Polish they often say that the most difficult area is... spelling! :)
    This just goes to say that for any language the difficulty experienced by native speakers and by foreigners are often completely different.
  12. jasio Senior Member

    Or pronunciation. ;)
    Average Poles, without some linguistic knowledge, indeed typically do not even notice the complexity of an aspect, while linguists may assume that aspect is a common feature on Slavic languages, so perhaps it would not be a good response to the question of difficulties specifically in Polish. :)

    BTW - leaving aside complexity of the aspect, if you consider that many prefixes have originally been prepositions, you can often derive/memorize the meaning by decomposing the words, for example some words derived from pisać (to write):

    * napisać (to write, perfective) <= "na" = "on", on something, so write on something, or simply write in this case
    * spisać -> spisywać <= "z/s" = "from", so write something (notes, perhaps) from something (a book perhaps, or an oral testimonial)
    * opisać -> opisywać <= "o" = "about", so write about something, or describe
    * przepisać -> przepisywać <= "prze" = "through" or "across", so write something word-by-word from a written source (an article, lecture notes)
    * wypisać -> wypisywać <= "wy" = "out", so one of the meaning is to leave something (a hospital, an organisation) where some written papers are involved
    * wpisać -> wpisywać <= "w" = in", so write something inside something else, perhaps when filling a form or a document
    * podpisać -> podpisywać <= "pod" = "under", so write something (podpis, signature) under something (a document body), which in English is "sign"
    * dopisać -> dopisywać <= "do" = "into", so write (add) something into an existing text, even if actually a new text would be added in the end. "do" may also have a meaning of finishing something, so "dojechać" means "go until you reach some sort of a destination", "dojść" - walk until the destination, "dopić" - drink the rest of your drink still left in a glass, "dojeść" - eat something still left on a plate, "doczytać" - read missing details, or complete reading the text, etc.

    You may also think of prefixing like about verbs+prepositions in English or German. I have never understood, why give and up create give up, you just have to memorize it. :) What may help you however is an observation that often when an English verb+preposition have a more or less literal meaning, you may try to derive the Polish equivalent using respective prefix. For example, "write back" - "odpisać/odpisywać", "give back" - "oddać/oddawać", "put back" - "odłożyć/odkładać", "put on" - "nałożyć/nakładać", "put in" - "włożyć/wkładać" (although in fact, the latter is nowadays most often used with clothes, so we more often say 'włóż płaszcz' or 'załóż płaszcz' than 'nałóż płaszcz', which for me sounds archaic or perhaps regional, but is perfectly understandable).

    In practice both observations may be too misleading to actually derive the words or safely guess the meaning (which might have changed since the word had been formed, such as "odjazd", which originally meant "departure of a train or a bus", but figuratively is used to describe something "extra" or "super"), but it may give you a hint and may be helpful to memorize it.

    Please also note that adding a prefix often / most often / typically / almost always (i am not sure, would have to check in a grammar book :( ) changes an imperfective verb into perfective.
  13. kenjoluma Senior Member

    Thanks everyone for helping me out.
    All of the posts here helped me a lot!

    Looks like I have a long way to go. :) Many Poles say the case system is difficult, but for me, the verb is the hardest part.

    PS. Don't you think it's strange that this is the first question in this entire forum that is pertaining to this issue?
  14. Ben Jamin Senior Member

  15. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Despite all these rules there is still a considerable number of verbs that don't comply with those rules, and their meaning can't be deduced from either the prefix, the suffix or inclitic. The most reliable method for a foreign learner is to learn verb after verb, beginning with the most often used and important. If you learn to use correctly 600 verbs then you can speak with ease about 90% of common issues.
  16. vpprof Member

    I totally agree with Ben Jamin, the "aspect pairs" is a very unhelpful and possibly misleading concept. Also, what about "jeść–jadać", "pić–pijać"? :)
  17. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    This is an additional aspect, translated into English as "used to", and without a commonly agreed name. Some call it "frequentative", but i prefer to call it "habitual". There are few verbs that form this aspect, not more than some and twenty.
    There is also another aspect, also restricted to a limited number of verbs, that is formed by adding a second prefix "po", like "poprzybijać", "powyłamywać", "ponakładać", which I call "iterative". It describes a series of perfective actions of the same kind.
    The stronges objection against the use of the term "aspectual pair" is that there are many verbs that that haven't got a pair of the same meaning, for example "spać". There are also verbs, recently loaned from other languages that are neither perfective nor imperfective, they are just used in both aspects, for example "aresztować".
  18. vpprof Member

    If it's in the past, that is. "Jadałem tu" = "I used to eat out here". But "Jadam tu" = "I (usually) eat here".

    But then, how many aspects are there? I thought there's only two: dokonany & niedokonany. I'm sorry, I only know Polish grammar as it is taught in Polish schools… Seems like I may have been criticizing the wrong thing :)

    Yes, that's certainly true.
  19. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Yes, it's true of course, I was too centered on the past tense,

    It is a very good question. There is no agreement about this, and this problem is never discussed in Polish schools. Maybe because it is not necessary for native speakers of Polish. (Actually you can speak your mother tongue perfectly without knowing grammar at all. Birds can fly without knowing aerodynamics.)

    It is only when Polish is taught as a foreign language to adults that these questions arise.

    If you read the article in Wikipedia about grammatical aspect you'll find tens of various aspects described there (momentane, progressive, stative, inceptive*, etc. etc.). Many of them can be found in Polish, but the two usually acknowledged (imperfective and perfective) plus the two I mentioned are the most important for understanding how Polish works.

    *Examples of inceptive aspect in Polish "pobiegł", "zaintonował", but these can also be understood as special cases of the perfective aspect.
  20. jasio Senior Member

    There may be another reason as well.

    It's said that perfective/imperfective aspects are very central to the grammar of the verb in Slavic languages, meaning there are phenomena, which clearly depend on wheather the verb is perfective or imperfective. For example, the perfective verbs do not have present tense, and the present tense suffixes applied to them in fact create FUTURE tense (simple future, or simple form of future tense, to be more precise). Please compare: "piszę" vs. "napiszę", "czytam" vs. "przeczytam", etc. To complete the table of tenses, imperfective verbs form only compound form of future tense, while perfective verbs form only simple form of future tense ("będę pisać" vs. "napiszę", "będę czytać" vs. "przeczytam"). Consequently, you have to learn about perfective/imperfective aspect PRIOR to learning simple and compund future, or even before introducing future tense at all. This works exactly in the same way in Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, and probably in South Slavic languates as well, and even beginners have to understand it.

    On the other hand, all the other aspects do not influence grammar in such a significant way, and thus they are only SECONDARY from the grammar point of view. "Jadać" is a fully legitimate infinitive, (just like "jeść", "zjeść" i "zjadać"), but considering verb declination, it behaves like regular imperfective (except that the present tense has little to do with the present time :) ). Hence, naturally, it's a topic for advanced students.
  21. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    It will probably be of little help and it doesn't adress directly your question, but I thought I'd drop that anyway:
    Stosunkowo liczne czasowniki dokonane są utworzone od prostych czasowników niedokonanych poprzez dodanie przedrostka. Do tworzenia czasownika dokonanego tworzącego z prostym czasownikiem niedokonanym parę aspektową używa się różnych przedrostków bez jasnych reguł. Najczęstszym w tej funkcji jest z-/ze-/s-/ś-.
    Oto obliczenia wykonane na materiale słownika Z. Saloniego:

    1. z-/ze-/s-/ś- – tworzy około 42% par aspektowych,​
    2. za- – 23%,​
    3. wy- – 11%,​
    4. po- – 8%,​
    5. u- – 8%,​
    6. o- – 4%,​
    7. na- – 3%.​
    Poza wymienionymi, do tworzenia par aspektowych używa się także przedrostków:​

    • prze- (czytać, dziurawić, kalkować, kartkować, ląc się, literować, nicować, nocować, straszyć, studiować, szmuglować, szwarcować, testować, wertować, zimować, żegnać się),​
    • roz-/roze- (dnieć, entuzjazmować, kolportować, negliżować, panoszyć się, propagować, śmiać się, złościć),​
    • pod-/pode- (ekscytować, zelować, żyrować),
    • przy- (cumować, stemplować, witać),
    • od-/ode- (młodnieć, restaurować),
    • do- (kooptować),​
    • ob-/obe- (sztorcować).​
    It may be useful to have an overall look at the website.

    There is also a book by Zygmunt Saloni, a Polish linguist, Czasownik polski, Odmiana, Słownik, 13500 czasowników, Wiedza Powszechna, 2007. It's got around a hundred conjugation verb patterns of "podstawowe pary aspektowe" in its main part "Tabele koniugacyjne" and many more aspectual cognates in the "Indeks" (with cross-references to their model conjugation pattern in the main part). I found a snippet from "Indeks" on Google Books, you can see the basic aspectual pairs for some verbs.

    A few words on forming Polish frequentative verbs:
    jęz. Czasownik wielokrotny «czasownik oznaczający czynność lub stan, które się powtarzają, utworzony od czasownika jednokrotnego za pomocą pewnych przyrostków (np. -a-, -wa-, -ywa-) lub przedrostków (głównie po- i na-), często przy jednoczesnej zmianie samogłoski rdzennej (np. jadać od jeść, bywać od być, siadywać od siedzieć, pozamykać od zamykać, nawlewać od wlewać); czasownik częstotliwy»

    Source: Słownik języka polskiego PWN © Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN SA
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2014
  22. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    "aspectual pairs" again. Show me how many primary imperfective verbs have only one perfective pair.
    I think that the best way of teaching foreigners about Polish verbs is:

    Present the unprefixed (usually imperfective) "core" verb and explain the meaning and use.
    Present and explain the meaning and use of all prefixed perfective verbs that include the core verb, and explain which can be used to make "aspectual pair" with the unprefixes verbs, and which can't.
    Present the prefixed imperfective verbs with a modified ending created to match the perfective prefixed verbs which can't be matched with the unprefixed imperfective verb.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2014
  23. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    I believe the website I referred to and Kenjoluma explain that quite well. I'm not sure I understand your point though.
  24. jasio Senior Member

    Why do you oppose so hectically probably the most of the Slavic grammar books? Using this kind of arguments one could probably question distinguishing parts of speech in English on the grounds that many nouns can be easily used as adjectives or verbs. :/

    Try to distinguish between (strict) aspectual pairs and using prefixes to primarliy modify the meaning of the verb AND (most often though not always) aspect as well - which is not quite the same.

    Wouldn't it make as much sense as trying to present and memorize all forms of give away, give back, give in, give in to, give it to, give it up for, give it up to, give of, give off, give onto, give out, give over, give over to, give over, give up, give up on, give up to, give way, give way to, give yourself up, give yourself up to, etc. just because you happen to have a lesson on "give"? I would rather expect to teach primarily strict aspectual pairs, as typically BOTH verbs have to be known, leaivng all the other prefixes to the time when it's their natural turn based on the meanings and frequencies of respective verbs.
  25. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    What about verbs that have no aspectual pairs?
    I am not opposing all Slavic grammar books, I only wish to show that the information, at least related to Polish, is imprecise.
    The thing that I really want to emphasise that there are many verbs that have not got a real "strict aspectual pair", meaning that the unprefixed imperfective verb often has not got exactly the same meaning as the prefixed perfective verb, but the meaning of the unprefixed imperfective verb is very broader, and the prefixed perfective verb much more specialized. It results in a situation with one imperfective verb and many perfective verbs that can make the counterparts to it.
    It is often a problem for the learner of Polish to choose the correct counterpart.

    I think that your English example is not relevant here, as English doesn't know the opposition of perfective and imperfective, each of the verbs you have quoted so profusely is an independent lexem on its own, and not a pair to give, but parallel to it.
  26. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    I thought that was (partly) what Kanjoluma meant writing:
    I believe that there are hardly any subsystems of any language that always behave in a systematic way. Even if you have a look at the use of the present tense in English or Polish, you will quickly see that it's not solely used to describe present events. It's similar with perfective/imperfective verbs. Most of them have their basic relevant counterparts, but not all of them. As Szkot says "You have to learn to walk before you can run, and aspect pairs is a good place to start." It should be noted to students, though, that it's not always like that and that there are cases in which no strict aspectual counterpart is to be found. I am a proponent of giving student guidelines/rules, but with caveats that they aren't absolute--because this is how the vast majority treats them, which is a real problem sometimes.
    This may not be so simple as it would seem...
    Translate the two following sentences into Polish and analyse them aspect-wise:
    I saw him repair my bike.
    I saw him repairing my bike.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2014
  27. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Yes, from our point of view, and from a linguist's point of view it is substantial, but for an average English speaker the distinction is just uninteresting, just the same way as an inceptive aspect of "pobiegł" in "Jan pobiegł co sił w nogach" means nothing for a Polish speaker.

    English has even lexical aspect of verbs, in many ways similar to ours, for instance "to open up" is a typical perfective verb, while "to sleep" is a typical imperfective one, but the oppostion of aspects is not a matter of concern.
  28. Словеса Senior Member

    As a student, I never understand wrong guidelines. When I see a contradiction, that stops my thinking process. Sorry, I (am trying to) understand words literally, and I think this is the right way to understand them.
  29. jasio Senior Member

    Then you simply say that that particular verb does not match the standard pattern, and explain why: perhaps it just exists in one aspect, perhaps the same word can be used in both aspects, perhaps all known candidates in fact express slightly different meaning, perhaps the aspectual partner does exist, but in practice is rarely, or never used. But neither of these exceptions breaks the overall model.

    Isn't Polish a natural, living language? Exceptions in natural languages are, ehm, natural ;) aren't they? Even with such a basic thing, like number: as you know, there are in general two numbers in Polish, but some nouns also have a double number (they are in fact relics, so they are usually considered to have non standard or parallel forms of plural), some nouns exist only in plural, some perhaps exist only in singular, some words are used in contexts which do not correspond with their grammatical number (such as 'drzwi'), etc. But all these exceptions do not break the general rule that in Polish there are two numbers. Or do they?

    A common example would be, perhaps, "jechać". Are there many others? I'm not challenging you, I'm just curious.

    I didn't write that English did have the opposition, did I? I used examples of a known concept existing in English, probably the closest to prefixing in Polish for the sake of foreigners, for whom this discussion could be otherwise more difficult to follow. If a verb receives a prefix which changes its meaning than it's a different lexem, just like English (or German) verbs with pronouns.

    Also, I assume that when saying about prefixing you may use a shorthand or refer to a special situation. Although in fact prefix can change the aspect, it has little to do with prefixing. Aspect is linked to the meaning of the verb, not to prefixes (note for foreigners).
  30. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Również: spać, wiedzeć, być, iść, lecieć, działać, pędzić, mnożyć, i wiele innych.
  31. jasio Senior Member

    Potraktuj je, jak czasowniki nieregularne. :)

    Ale w tym gronie tak naprawdę specjalnym i osobliwym przypadkiem jest "być". Najwyraźniej jego formy fleksyjne powstały z połączenia dokonanego czasownika spokrewnionego z dzisiejszym "być" (mającego całkiem regularne formy czasu przeszłego i przyszłego) oraz jakiegoś odrębnego, niedokonanego czasownika na "je", z których powstały formy czasu teraźniejszego.
  32. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    It may or may not. In the following example, I believe, it's really important:
    I saw him drown.
    I saw him drowning.

    I first came across the concept of "lexical aspect" thanks to my teacher of French grammar at university. If I remember aright it differs from "grammatical aspect" existing in Polish (i.e. perfective and imperfective verbs). I'd say that it exists in most European languages. The trouble is, however, that there are many variables that can influence the aspectual value of a verb or action, which to me was mind-blowing while I was trying to break down verb phrases.

    Being a language student myself, I've also learnt hundreds of rules. If you're bright enough and can spot inconsitencies in them, then you're well off enough to study on your own. There aren't many such people, unfortunately. Most simply follow the pattern given to them, being completely oblivious to certain departures from it, unless your teacher disabuses you at one point or another.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2014
  33. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Kiedy one nie są nieregularne, z wyjątkiem "być". To system jest inny niż się sugeruje.
    A poza tym, co to da?
    Należy zmienić opis systemu.

    Większość bezprzedrostkowych niedokonanych czasowników nieprzechodnich nie ma dokładnego odpowiednika dokonanego w przedrostkowym czasowniku dokonanym.
    Dotyczy to prawie wszystkich czasowników opisujących stan.
    Znaczenie różnych „prawie odpowiedników” nieprzechodnich przedrostkowych czasowników dokonanych prawie bez wyjątku różni się od „rdzennego” czasownika niedokonanego.
    Przykład: spać (niedokonany)
    Forma czasu przeszłego: spałem
    Czasowniki dokonane, które można użyć, gdy chcemy określić czynność dokonaną od „spać”:
    - pospać
    - przespać
    - przespać się
    - wyspać się
    - dospać
    - rozespać się
    - pospać sobie
    - odespać
    - naspać się
    (to chyba już prawie wszystkie).
    Żaden z nich nie ma tego samego zakresu znaczeniowego co „spać”.

    Nie ma tu żadnej pary, jest cały «harem».
    Mówienie w tej sytuacji o parach to tak jak mówienie o parach małżeńskich w kraju, w którym dominuje wielożeństwo.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2014
  34. Словеса Senior Member

    The problem is, on the early stages of education I (impersonal I) cannot formulate such inconsistencies/contradictions as well-expressed problems. Instead, they manifest themselves as the unclear feeling that the rules "do not make sense". So, the evaluation just stops to never recover. I (personal I) remember how this happened to me in the school on the lessons of the Russian language, when they gave explanations which sounded strange and which, as it turned out later, were simply wrong; that stopped any interest in language for me for long, only to be recovered by a popular book that made more sense. Although this may apply more to the school, when the pupil is not yet able to think for himself in the area, so he has to rely on his teacher's thinking.
  35. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    Pytanie tylko czy ma to miejsce w przypadku większości czasowników?

    Z wieloma z nich można utworzyć niedokonany odpowiednik z podstawą "sypiać" (mimo że podstawa nie wykazuje aspektowego odpowiednika):
    - pospać
    - przespać -- przesypiać
    - przespać się -- przesypiać się
    - wyspać się --wysypiać się
    - dospać -- dosypiać
    - rozespać się -- rozsypiać (się)
    - pospać sobie
    - odespać -- odsypiać
    - naspać się
    Do głowy przychodzi mi jeszcze:
    -zaspać -- zasypiać*

    A przecież są jeszcze czasowniki powiązane znaczeniowo o innych rdzeniach, np: uśpić, usnąć itd. W przypadku niektórych można mówić tylko o parach aspektowych w pewnych znaczeniach, np: spać z kimś--przespać się z kimś. Wszystkie łączy aspekt -- każdy ma albo dokonany albo niedokonany (w niektórych wypadkach dwuaspektowe). Nie wszystkie z kolei łączy wspólny trzpień semantyczny, np. przespać się z kimś niekoniecznie musi oznaczać dosłowne spanie. Poza tym, nawet w przypadku jednego czasownika w jednym aspekcie gramatycznym możemy mieć doczynienia z różnymi aspektami leksykalnymi: zasypiać--iteratiwum lub duratiwum, które nijak nie przekładają się na jego odpowiednik w drugim aspekcie gramatycznym. Poza tym czy rozróżnienie na aspekt dokonany i niedokonany nieodwołalnie prowadzi do wniosku, że każdy czasownik ma swój (podstawowy) odpowiednik w przeciwnym aspekcie?

    *"zasypiać" de facto może mieć też "zasnąć" jako odpowiednik dokonany.

    Wouldn't the manifestation itself be a sufficient reason for looking -- in case your teacher doesn't deliver? ;)
    Anyway, I've got similar experience to yours. I agree that at the early stages of their education, students may not be yet able to take care of themselves, and the teacher is their guide. Besides, I very often found counter examples to the "rule(r)s*" which only reinforced my thinking that certain rules were useless or, as you put it, "simply wrong".

    *rulers -- those who give you rules, which at some point were inculcated by use of wooden rulers
  36. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Nie mam danych na ten temat, i nie wiem, czy ktokolwiek robił takie badania statystyczne, a byłoby ciekawe poznać takie wyniki. W każdym razie jest ich dostatecznie dużo, i to często używanych, że należy im się miejsce w nauczaniu języka polskiego. Nie można ich pomijać mówiąc „wyjątek od reguły, bez znaczenia”.

    Są to czasowniki niedokonane wtórne (typ 3), utworzone przez zmianę końcówki od czasowników dokonanych z przedrostkiem (typ 2) dodanym do niedokonanego czasownika pierwotnego (typ 1).
    Jest ich bardzo dużo, ale nie ma ich dla absolutnie wszystkich czasowników typu 2.
    Najpierw tworzono je dla czasowników, których znaczenie odbiegło radykalnie daleko od bezprzedrostkowego czasownika typu 1, żeby w ogóle móc mowić o tej czynności w aspekcie dokonanym. Przykład: bić – zabić – zabijać. Później utworzono je również dla tych, które tylko częściowo różnią się znaczeniem (np. spać – odespać – odsypiać). Nota bene „odsypiać” nie równa się „spać”. Ale i one często odbiegają znaczeniem pomiędzy typem 2 i typem 3, np. „zaspać” to nie to samo co „zasypiać”. Czyli znowu nie da się ułożyć eleganckiego i prostego wzoru niby „-ać” to wariant dokonany od „-yć”.

    No właśnie. To co piszesz tutaj potwierdza moje wywody.

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