Academic journal article Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies

English Resultant, Affected and Eventive Objects in Polish Grammar

Academic journal article Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies

English Resultant, Affected and Eventive Objects in Polish Grammar

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Some of the major contributions of Contrastive Studies are, on the one hand, the awareness that in many respects languages have to be described in their own terms, particularly at the level of structure, and, on the other hand, that, nevertheless, it is very instructive, and often revealing, to apply grammatical categories of one language to the analysis of another language. Instructive and revealing in that such descriptions may uncover unknown mechanisms and offer new explanations of so far unexplained phenomena in another language. Such an analysis very often requires interlevel considerations.

Since Polish grammars do not distinguish resultant, affective and eventive objects, we have the most interesting situation in Contrastive Analysis where a category in [L.sup.i] does not have its equivalent in [L.sub.j] (Krzeszowski 1976). Two questions that have to be asked in such a case are: a) whether it is possible to identify in Polish equivalents of English resultant, affective and eventive objects, and, more importantly, b) what purpose it could be used for, other than sub-categorization of the object category, as in English.

In an earlier paper (Szwedek 1998) I pointed out that some imperfective verbs in Polish can acquire perfective reading, if they are in the past tense, and are accompanied by an object (which I compared then to RESULTANT OBJECT as described by Quirk et al. 1985) which must have a "given", context dependent status.

The present brief study is devoted to the discussion of the relevance of resultant, affected and eventive objects as described for English (Quirk et al. 1985), and particularly some of their semantic features, in the interpretation of Polish aspect, two apparently diverse phenomena. First, I briefly describe resultant, affected and eventive objects in English and in Polish, and try to identify their common semantic properties which could have some bearing on the interpretation of Polish aspect. I then discuss the nature of oppositions particularly with respect to Polish aspect, and finally mention some other, additional, factors, of semantic and textual nature, which have to be considered in such an interpretation.

2.1. Resultant and affected objects in English

Quirk et al. (1985) define a resultant object in the following way:

"A RESULTANT object [also 'object of result', or 'effected object'] is an object whose referent exists only by virtue of the activity indicated by the verb:

(1) Baird invented television.

(2) They are designing a new car.

(3) John has painted a new picture.

(4) She made a fire.

(5) I'm writing a letter.

(6) I baked a cake."

(Quirk et al. 1985: 749-750).

The distinction of a resultant object in those terms is a very subtle procedure, and requires further clarification:

With an agentive subject and an affected object, one may always capture part of the meaning of a clause (eg: X destroyed Y) by saying 'X did something to Y'; but this does not apply to a resultant object: Baird invented television does not imply 'Baird did something to television'. Contrast the affected object in I'm digging the ground with the resultant object in I'm digging a hole (Quirk et al. 1985: 750).

To clarify possible confusion, Quirk et al. provide contrasts between a resultant and affected object:

(7) I baked a cake.

resultant object

(8) I baked some potatoes.

(9) She cooked a meal.

affected object

(10) She cooked some carrots.

(11) He's frying an omelet.

(12) He's frying an egg.

The examples clearly support Quirk et al.'s definition that the resultant object owes its existence or state to the activity indicated by the verb. It seems that the common feature of the resultant and affected objects is the emergence, through the activity specified by the verb, of new, complete entities or new states thereof, by which they are understood as identifiable units. …

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