Another Look at Secondary Homogenizations in Russian

Nicholas LeBlanc, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

This paper analyzes Russian delimitative verbs formed with по-  in light of Hans Robert Mehlig’s (2004) model of secondary homogenization in his Глагольный вид и вторичная гомогенизация обозначаемой ситуации посредством квантификации: К употреблению делимитативного способа действия в русском языке and in light of Ksenia Kisseleva and Sergei Tatevosov’s model of delimitative formation presented in their paper, “Incrementality and the delimitative,” at the 2004 Perspectives on Slavisitics conference in Leuven, Belgium.  Mehlig’s model presents three types of secondary homogenization of accomplishment and achievement predicates as necessary for formation of the delimitative: distributivity, iterativity, and frequentativity.  These secondary homogenizations depend on the speaker’s conceptualization of a predicate as involving unbounded actors (distributivity), unbounded repetitions of the action (iterativity), or unbounded repetitions of internally-quantified actions (frequentativity).  Kisseleva&Tatevosov 2004 calls into question the necessity of these three secondary homogenizations, and instead they posit iterativity as the single criterion for delimitative formation for non-incremental predicates.  Unlike Mehlig, they define iterativity as the relationship by which every part of the given event is related to the whole patient. 

While I agree with Kisseleva and Tatevosov that there is one underlying quality that unifies all three of Mehlig’s proposed secondary homogenizations, I believe that Kisseleva and Tatevosov’s concept of iterativity can be refined to better fit the data.  Thus I revise their version of iterativity (which I now term iterativity) to capture that quality common to all of Mehlig’s secondary homogenizations:   the property of an action that occurs in discrete, conceptually identical sub-segments, which may occur simultaneously or successively.  Using data collected from the Russian internet, I argue i) that Kisseleva and Tatevosov’s definition of iterativity does not explain many uses of the delimitative in the predicates in question, and  ii) that a revised version of that concept can explain the data more simply than does Mehlig’s system, without running into the problem of the motivation when drawing a boundary between distributive and iterative predicates.  Iterativity provides a more concise explanation of the data I have reviewed.