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Another way to look at telicity is to consider it a semantic distinction.
Is the action complete or not? Possible nuances admittedly make this vague.
(John ate part of the cake -- but was it his intention to eat only part,
and now he is done with his snack?; or was he interrupted by a knock on the
door partway through eating the entire cake, and he will return to eat
more?)

(And I do know that in some papers the terms telic/atelic are used to
describe syntax, not semantics -- which I think muddies the waters.)

Regardless, if we consider telicity as a semantic distinction, then the
partitive marking on nouns, and the imperfective marking on verbs, can be
understood as a way to express this semantic distinction semantically.
Other languages make this distinction periphrastically or contextually. As
a conlanger, you are free to choose any, all, or none of the above.

Jeffrey



On Thu, May 15, 2014 at 2:39 AM, Patrik Austin <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> Thanks for the term 'telicity', Jyri!
>
> The way I see it, the imperfective aspect in verbs corresponds to the
> partitive case in nouns; and the perfective aspect in verbs corresponds to
> the accusative case in nouns (I can check with Jouko Lindstedt).
>
> As a curiosity, Zamenhof must have been very well aware of the Slavic verb
> aspects, but he probably left it out of the Esperanto grammar to make the
> language easier for non-Slavs. Later this however caused the 'ita-ata
> schism' because speakers of Slavic languages understood participles
> differently from speakers of Western European languages.
>
> Even though the dispute was somehow settled, the problem still appears
> with certain words, such as 'malpermesita' (forbidden; past participle) vs
> 'malpermesata' (ditto; present participle). People still argue whether
> smoking is malpermesita or malpermesata.
>
> This is because the nominal -ato/-ito is actually the object of an action.
> So if something is -ita, does it mean it was an object in the past but no
> longer? This is a common interpretation, but for me, as a Finnish speaker,
> I understand 'fumado estas malpermesata' as 'tupakointiA kielletään' -
> smoking is being forbidden, and as my translation is in the partitive (-A),
> I see it as an incomplete action: you can still have a smoke if you're
> quick!
>