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Article

Aspectual pairs in the Russian National Corpus

Scando-Slavica. 2011. No. 2(57). P. 201-215.
Janda L., Lyashevskaya O.

The status of aspectual pairs formed by prefixation, as in delat ́ (imperfective):sdelat ́ (perfective) ‘do’ vs. suffixation, as in peredelat ́ (perfective):peredelyvat ́ (imper­ fective) ‘redo’ is the topic of a long­standing debate in Russian linguistics. Whereas most scholars assume the same aspectual relation is present for both types of pairs, some (Isačenko, Zaliznjak, Timberlake) hypothesize that only pairs derived via suffixation are true pairs. We present empirical evidence that aspectual pairs behave the same way in terms of the distribution of their forms regardless of whether they are formed via prefixes or suffixes. We examine nearly six million verb forms from the Modern subcorpus of the Russian National Corpus and show that there are no reportable statistical differences between the distributions of forms for perfective and imperfective verbs that can be attributed to the morphology (prefixes vs. suffixes) used to derive paired verbs.