Academic journal article Journal of Slavic Linguistics

New Conclusions on the Conclusive

Academic journal article Journal of Slavic Linguistics

New Conclusions on the Conclusive

Article excerpt

Abstract: The renarrated mood, sometimes called the "evidential", is an innovation in Bulgarian grammar. Although it is primarily expressed with inherited forms, it includes one innovative form, a participle built on the imperfect stem of the verb. Prescriptive grammars of the socialist period stated that this participle could be used only in the meaning "renarrated", and only without auxiliaries in the 3rd person. In the face of ample evidence that the participle is indeed used in a perfect-like compound form (i.e., with 3rd person auxiliaries), several grammarians proposed in the 1980s that this perfect-like form carried inferential meaning and should be termed the "conclusive mood". This paper claims that the form in question is currently taking on a different, much broader meaning than either of these, and that this meaning, roughly defined as "generalized durative action in the past" is rapidly gaining acceptability among the younger generation.

1. Introduction

The Bulgarian past tense system has been the subject of much debate. The set of forms is complex, and the range of meaning expressed by these forms is vast. Part of the complexity is due to conservatism: where other Slavic languages have eliminated the aorist and imperfect in favor of a single past tense form based on the old perfect, Bulgarian has retained all of these tenses in active use. But much of the complexity is due to innovation. Bulgarian has developed a completely new set of paradigmatic meanings--referred to variously as the "reported mood", the "renarrated mood", or the "evidential"--based on variations in the form of the old perfect. The key verbal form in the several paradigms of this mood is a participle formed on the aorist stem of the verb. But although the aorist-based participle was inherited from the common Slavic ancestor, the last several centuries have seen the rise of a new participle formed on the imperfect stem of the verb. It is this participial form that is the focus of the current paper.

The renarrated mood has long been of interest in historical and descriptive Slavic linguistics. Discussion has remained on the level of theory and introspection, however, focused primarily on the semantics of these verbal forms and their place in the Bulgarian verb system as a whole. It is our intention in this contribution to draw the attention of sociolinguists to this question, and particularly to the role of the imperfect participle within this larger complex. Although in principle the imperfect participle plays a major role in the expression of the renarrated mood (the "evidential"), it has until recently been all but ignored by grammarians. Some prescriptive grammars do not mention the imperfect participle at all, and those which do mention it give confusing and contradictory statements about its usage. (1) In the mid 1980s, several grammarians turned their attention to the verb sets built on this participle and developed the term "conclusive mood" for them. (2) As a result, there are now two different sets of putative usage rules concerning these participles. One set derives more or less from the early post-war period and places these verb forms squarely within the renarrated mood (setting considerable limitations on their use), and the other derives from the final years of socialist rule and gives them the name of the conclusive mood. Neither set is fully implemented within current school textbooks; indeed, many school textbooks do not mention these forms at all.

Our contention is that current usage does not fit either of these two sets of rules. Rather, we see a pattern developing which is simpler and more straightforward than either of the two complex sets of rules referred to above. Because there is no real set norm against which to measure this innovation, it is hard to specify the parameters governing its spread. It is even possible that the usage we describe in the following pages had been more acceptable in the pre-socialist period, and is only now resurfacing again after a strong socialist prescriptivist period. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.