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PhD Defence

Verbal Aspect in Old Church Slavonic

Wednesday 7 December 2016
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


Slavic languages are well known for their aspect opposition between perfective and imperfective verbs. This aspect system shows great similarities among the various modern Slavic languages and can even be treated as a single system. However, in recent decades it has become clear that there are also large differences between the modern Slavic languages with regard to the verbal aspect system. This raises questions as to the kind of system from which the modern Slavic verbal aspect systems originate.

The closest we can get to the source of the Slavic languages is by studying Old Church Slavonic, the oldest attested Slavic language. The main question that study addresses is therefore:

What does the verbal aspect system in OCS look like?

In short, it can be concluded that the Old Church Slavonic verbal aspect system is a fully fledged and elaborate Slavic-style aspect system, which, just like the aspect systems in modern Slavic languages, is centered around terminative verbs. To reach a satisfactory description of the aspect system it is necessary to distinguish a third group of anaspectual verbs. In these verbs any morphological characteristics of aspect are absent and they do not express either perfective or imperfective aspect. With about 30% or the total number of attestations in Old Church Slavonic, this is an important group.

The study also treats the possible role of the imperfect in the development of the perfective-imperfective opposition. The development of secondary imperfectives can possibly be connected, both morphologically and semantically, to the imperfect.


  • Prof. dr. Jos Schaeken
  • Dr. Egbert Fortuin (co-promotor)


PhD defences are free; you do not have to register.

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

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Inès van Arkel, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

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