A. Process versus Result
In this paper I will present an alternative analysis based on the concept of
Process and Result in language (Tobin 1993) which will provide a semantic
distinction between the forms till and until that will account for their non-
synonymy and explain their distribution. The postulation of the features Process and
Result is based on the assumption that language may reflect two fundamental ways of
viewing actions, states, or events, either as focusing on the (ongoing) process involved
in the action, state, or event, or, alternatively, from the point of view of the result
(outcome, endpoint, consequence, completion, destination, or telic, or teleological goal).
The features of Process and Result explain the semantic
distinction between troublesome lexical pairs in a unified and systematic way. This alternative
approach involves a semantic analysis based on the semiotic or sign-oriented notions of invariance,
markedness, and distinctive feature theory (Tobin 1990, 1993, 1994/1995). My analysis of
troublesome lexical pairs is based on the following six principles:
- Both members of such pairs share a common semantic domain.
- It is this shared domain which has allowed for the assumption that the
forms are (at least closely) synonymous.
- I maintain, however, that the members of the lexical pair not synonyms, but rather
each possesses a single invariant meaning which distinguishes it from the other, and will
motivate its distribution in the language.
- These invariant meanings are in a marked/unmarked relationship revolving around
the features of Process and Result which refer to alternative ways of
perceiving actions, states, or events in the world.
- This particular marked/unmarked relationship is an asymmetric one which may be
stated here in the form of discourse instructions:
(a) the marked (M) form makes a specific claim for the feature
Result: i.e., an action, state, or event must be viewed from the point
of view of result, goal, consequence, conclusion, destination, telic end-point, etc.
which may be explicitly stated or implied.
(b) the unmarked (U) form makes no specific claim or is neutral for
the semantic feature Result: i.e., an action, state. or event may be
viewed either from the point of view of a Process and/or a
Result which may be explicitly stated or implied.
- The feature Result has been chosen as the marked feature because it
involves a more complex cognitive perception: an action, state, or event must not be viewed
in a partial or immediate manner, merely from its "outset" and/or during its performance or
execution, but must be viewed in a holistic way which necessarily includes its
Result (goal, consequence, conclusion, destination, telic end-point.)