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Article

Русские делимитативные предикаты и семантика перфекта

The article focuses on the dialogical (non-narrative) uses of Russian delimitative predicates with prefix po  (poguljat’, porabotat’). In dialogical discourse, such predicates almost obligatorily receive perfect interpretation (i. e. in almost all cases — at least for non-topical predicates — they always express the semantics of current relevance). They differ in this respect from the transformative perfective verbs (napisat’, kupit’), which also frequently receive perfect interpretation in dialogical discourse, but it can be easily cancelled.
In addition, in dialogical discourse delimitative verbs form a functional opposition with the corresponding imperfective verbs (in their “general-factual” uses) (cf. a pair Ja pospal vs. Ja spal). While the former express perfect semantics proper (current relevance semantics) — Ja pospal; Ja uže poguljal, — the latter express opposite experiential ~ “existential” semantics — Ja spal; Ja uže guljal.
Given the fact that the delimitative derivation is highly productive in Russian (delimitative predicate can be formed from almost any imperfective verb), it can be considered to perform in Russian the role of a specialized perfect for atelic situations and for telic situations not achieving their natural endpoint. At the same time this device is (almost) obligatory in this function only in dialogical discourse in non-topical uses. The role of “non-perfect” grammatical device in the same conditions is performed by corresponding imperfective predicates.