Ethan JannottLING 394 – Term Paperling394_TermPaperTOPICSome verbs in the Spanish language change their meaning from their simple definitions when they are put into the simple past tense or form (Preterite). Examples of this can be seen from some simple words taken from a standard Spanish language book (Dominicis and Reynolds 2007). A few examples of these words are, in their imperfect indicative form, podia (I was able to), queria (I wanted to), and sabia (I knew, knew how to). In their preterite indicative form, they become pude (I was able to), quise (I tried to), and supe (I learned), respectively. In this paper, I’ll show the ways in lexical semantics works with aspect, tense, and mood to produce different meanings and how their distribution fits into cross-linguistic patterns of morphological mismatch.The Spanish verbal system divides tense into past and non-past. The non-past also encompasses Present, and when in the Indicative, it includes Future as well. The three moods that Spanish distinguishes between are Indicative, Imperative and Subjunctive. Conditional expresses relative-temporal value and is sometimes considered a mood. The past part of the Indicative morphologically conveys the imperfective/perfective distinction by the Imperfect Indicative and the Preterite Indicative. An example of this can be seen if you take the Imperfect Indicative of “I was reading a fascinating article,” Leia un articulo fascinante, and turn it into the Preterite Indicative to say Lei un articulo fascinante, meaning “I read a fascinating article.” The first version doesn’t refer to the beginning or the end of the act of reading. It may be a response to the question such as “what were you doing when the phone rang?” The second sentence, on the other hand presents the act of reading as a completed action, perhaps in response to the question “what did you do this morning?” The two verbs don’t mean different things, per say. Instead, the different forms put emphasis on different stages of the same action. There seems to be general agreement on the basic idea of this opposition, but there hasn’t yet been a consensus on how the distinction is mapped onto the semantics of these verbs that change in their meaning. In his work “Macro Events and ‘Aspect Shift’ in Spanish,” (2007), Joshua Rodriguez argues that “cognitive stative verbs” like saber and conocer encode what he calls “macro-events” – basically sequences of an ongoing process and resulting state. He sees the Preterite Indicative an an event being encoded such that it declared the beginning of a state. This is then treated as the basic meaning of the word as ir expressed by the Imperfect Indicative. For example, if you consider the Preterite Indicative of conocer, and say Joey conocio a Ethan, this would be interpreted as an event – “Joey met Ethan last year.” Alternatively, the Imperfect Indicative, conocia, and say Joey conocia a Ethan, the verb would be interpreted as a state – “Joey knew Ethan last year.”Not all Spanish verbs that change in meaning show up in the same way that conocer and saber do. In the Preterite Indicative, poder encodes in a way that is comparable to the English word manage. Por fin pude entender su idea (“I finally managed to understand her idea”). The verb simulates other Spanish verbs that can be encoded with different meanings based on aspect since the speaker enters a state that lasts. The speaker is finally able to understand the idea, and presumably continues to understand the idea for a while after. In negative sentences such as No pudo encontrar la guitarra (“He couldn’t find the guitar”) and No pude levantar el trofeo (“I couldn’t lift the trophy”), the same method doesn’t apply. In the former sentence, the “event” coincides with the point when the subject stopped looking for the guitar. In the latter sentence, the speaker indicates that they had tried to lift the trophy, but they weren’t strong enough. The speaker’s lack of having enough strength became evident when they tried to lift the trophy, and there’s no indication that he was later able to lift the trophy – therefore, the speaker is in the state of not being able to lift it. Negative sentences that have the word querer, such as the sentence Tim no quiso ver la pelicula (“Tim refused to see the movie”), also express rejection. The difference is that the state of not wanting the rejected thing likely exists before and after the person’s preferences is explicitly stated. In this way, the Imperfect Indicative poses a potential state and the Preterite Indicative poses a moment when the potential state is turned into an action.Nevertheless, some verbs may operate in the opposite way when considering the order of event and the state. Take the example of querer. It can indicate a state in its Imperfect Indicative form, like in Tim queria tocar la cancion (“Tim wanted to play the song”), or it can indicate an event in the Preterite Indicative form, like in Tim quiso tocar la cancion (“Tim tried to play the song”). Querer is expressing both a desire (state) and the consequential event of trying to turn that desire into reality. After Tim tried to do something, the desire may have disappeared. This could be due to a number of reasons: Tim didn’t enjoy playing, he only played once, etcetera. The inchoactive event-state schema that Rodriguez proposes doesn’t work with cases like this.