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Aspects of conativity in Russian: towards a linguistics of attempt and success


Sonnenhauser, Barbara (2017). Aspects of conativity in Russian: towards a linguistics of attempt and success. In: Mueller-Reichau, Olav; Guhl, Marcel. Aspects of Slavic linguistics: formal grammar, lexicon and communication. Berlin: de Gruyter, 310-332.

Abstract

The psychological notion ‘conation’ refers to “the element in psychological processes that tends towards activity or change and appears as desire, volition, and striving” (CED). Similarly, the term ‘conative’ figures also in linguistics, where it has been used in a variety of ways (see Vincent 2013 for an overview), among them as a label for the addressee-oriented function of language (Jakobson 1992 [1960]) as instantiated, e.g., by vocatives and imperatives, and as identifying “morphemes or constructions in which there is a sense of trying” (Vincent 2013: 284). This latter understanding is central for the present paper, which focuses on the konativnoe značenie ‘conative reading’ of the Russian ipfv1 aspect and conation as expressed by verbs of trying. Particular attention will be paid to the semantic conditions and pragmatic mechanism based on which the conative reading may arise. To this end, the lexical and event semantic properties of conative verbs and verbs of trying will be systematised and embedded into philosophical considerations on the nature of intention, attempt and action. This helps to elucidate the regularities underlying the linguistic expression of conation and provides a basis for further investigations on the linguistics of attempt at the semantics-pragmatics interface and in the context of closely related domains such as (anti-)resultativity (in the sense of Plungjan 2001) and the intersection of ability and modality. The paper is structured as follows: Section 2 introduces examples illustrating the linguistic expression of conativity in Russian, which is imbedded in a more general discussion concerning the relation of intention, attempt and success in section 3. Section 4 elaborates a semantic description of verbs allowing for a conative interpretation and of verbs of trying. This provides the basis for the comparison of implicit and explicit conativity in section 5. Section 6 offers a short outlook, embedding the topic of conativity into a broader context.

Abstract

The psychological notion ‘conation’ refers to “the element in psychological processes that tends towards activity or change and appears as desire, volition, and striving” (CED). Similarly, the term ‘conative’ figures also in linguistics, where it has been used in a variety of ways (see Vincent 2013 for an overview), among them as a label for the addressee-oriented function of language (Jakobson 1992 [1960]) as instantiated, e.g., by vocatives and imperatives, and as identifying “morphemes or constructions in which there is a sense of trying” (Vincent 2013: 284). This latter understanding is central for the present paper, which focuses on the konativnoe značenie ‘conative reading’ of the Russian ipfv1 aspect and conation as expressed by verbs of trying. Particular attention will be paid to the semantic conditions and pragmatic mechanism based on which the conative reading may arise. To this end, the lexical and event semantic properties of conative verbs and verbs of trying will be systematised and embedded into philosophical considerations on the nature of intention, attempt and action. This helps to elucidate the regularities underlying the linguistic expression of conation and provides a basis for further investigations on the linguistics of attempt at the semantics-pragmatics interface and in the context of closely related domains such as (anti-)resultativity (in the sense of Plungjan 2001) and the intersection of ability and modality. The paper is structured as follows: Section 2 introduces examples illustrating the linguistic expression of conativity in Russian, which is imbedded in a more general discussion concerning the relation of intention, attempt and success in section 3. Section 4 elaborates a semantic description of verbs allowing for a conative interpretation and of verbs of trying. This provides the basis for the comparison of implicit and explicit conativity in section 5. Section 6 offers a short outlook, embedding the topic of conativity into a broader context.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Slavonic Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:490 Other languages
410 Linguistics
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:29 May 2017 08:01
Last Modified:29 May 2017 08:11
Publisher:de Gruyter
Number:16
ISBN:978-3-11-051787-3
Related URLs:https://www.degruyter.com/view/product/479656

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