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The Indicative and Subjunctive da-complements in Serbian: A Syntactic-Semantic Approach

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Nataša Todorović

This study analyzes the indicative and subjunctive da-complements in the Serbian language while comparing and contrasting them with similar finite constructions in other Slavic and Balkan languages. In complex structures, semantic properties of the matrix verb, homophonous da, and aspectual and tense properties of the embedded verb all contribute to interpretations of the morphologically unmarked subjunctive and indicative moods in the Serbian language. Merging Giannakidou’s theory of mood and veridicality with Progovac’s clausal structure, the author suggests that the choice of the indicative or subjunctive complement determines negation interpretation and implies that clitics in Serbian are not always restricted to the second position.
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3. Verbal and Clausal System

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3.1 Verbal System

This section provides a brief and a simple overview of the verbal system in Serbian and highlights the importance of the categories of aspect, mood, and tense as they contribute to a better understanding of the subjunctive and indicative da-complements.

3.1.1 Aspect

As noted by Progovac (2005:91), it is aspect that plays a “pivotal role in the functional architecture of the Serbian clause.” To define the notion of aspect is rather a difficult question; therefore, the discussion on aspect is limited in this manuscript. Precisely, I will limit my investigation to the analysis of the role aspect plays in da-complements, its contribution to the interpretation of tense, and the restrictions it imposes on the selection of da.

Serbian recognizes two different aspects: imperfective and perfective. Some verbs could be inherently perfective or imperfective, or the notion of perfective or imperfective can be captured by insertion of affixes. Within the perfective group, we can further delineate more types, while within the imperfective group, it is possible to distinguish between different interpretations. Tables I and II show a classification of the perfective and imperfective as discussed in Progovac (2005).

In Table I, the prefixes za-, na- and po- are attached to the imperfective verbs igrati (to play), pisati (to write), and pričati (to talk) respectively. The attachment of prefixes, in this case to imperfective verbs, changes the aspect to perfective. On the other hand, the...

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