Perfect in Lithuanian: A case study based on data from Facebook comments


The aim of this paper is to analyse the semantic values of the Lithuanian perfect construction, putting them into a perspective of grammaticalization. The paper is based entirely on the data from a 2-million-word Facebook comments corpus created ad hoc for this study. The quantitative and qualitative analysis of the semantic values of the perfect tokens extracted from the corpus reveals several previously unidentified features of this Lithuanian construction. A large proportion of structures formally corresponding to the perfect should be described as copular constructions with adjectivized participles. This formal coincidence and the ambiguity generated by it in certain cases should not be seen as accidental but rather considered a likely source of the grammaticalization of the Lithuanian perfect, as the influence of its semantic features can be seen in all the perfect’s other values. Considering it as a source, it seems that the development of the Lithuanian perfect is going in two separate, but also related directions, each of which is based on a gradual abandonment of one of the two core features of the prototypical Lithuanian perfects―the subject-oriented resultatives. In the case of the transitive resultative perfects, the orientation towards the subject is lost, while in the case of the experientials, it is the resultative meaning that is lost. Of these two values, the experientials are twice as frequent, which shows that the resultative meaning is abandoned more readily than the need to express a state or a quality of the subject. However, the experiential perfects seem to present some formal differences from all the other perfect values, namely, a significantly more frequent auxiliary usage which has so far been considered accidental.


perfect, Lithuanian, Facebook, comments, resultative, experiential, subjectoriented, participles, adjectival, grammaticalization

Ambrazas, Vytautas. 1979. Lietuvių kalbos dalyvių istorinė sintaksė [Historical Syntax of Lithuanian Participles]. Vilnius: Mokslas.

Ambrazas, Vytautas. 2006. Lietuvių kalbos istorinė sintaksė [Lithuanian Historical Syntax]. Vilnius: Lietuvių kalbos instituto leidykla.

Arkadiev, Peter M. 2012. Participial complementation in Lithuanian. In: Volker Gast & Holger Diessel, eds., Clause Linkage in Cross-Linguistic Perspective: Data-Driven Approaches to Cross-Clausal Syntax. Berlin-New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 285–334.

Arkadiev, Peter M. 2021. Perfect and negation: evidence from Lithuanian and sundry languages. In: Kristin Melum Eide & Marc Fryd, eds.,The Perfect Volume. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 138–161.

Arkadiev, Peter M. & Anna Daugavet. 2016. The perfect in Lithuanian and Latvian: A contrastive investigation. Presentation at Academia Grammaticorum Salensis Tertia Decima, Salos, Lithuania, 1–6 August 2016.

Arkadiev, Peter M. & Anna Daugavet. 2021. The perfects in Latvian and Lithuanian: A comparative study based on questionnaire and corpus data. In: Baltic Linguistics 12: Studies in the TAME Domain in Baltic and Its Neighbours (thematic volume), 73–165.

Arkadiev, Peter M. & Björn Wiemer. 2020. Perfects in Baltic and Slavic. In: Robert Crellin & Thomas Jügel, eds., Perfects in Indo-European Languages and Beyond. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 124–214.

Bybee, Joan L. & Östen Dahl. 1989. The creation of tense and aspect systems in the languages of the world. Studies in Language 13.1, 51–103.

Bybee, Joan L., Revere D. Perkins & William Pagliuca. 1994. The Evolution of Grammar: Tense, Aspect, and Modality in the Languages of the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Claes, Jeroen. 2015. Competing constructions: The pluralization of presentational haber in Dominican Spanish. Cognitive Linguistics 26.1, 1–30.

Cabredo Hofherr, Patricia, Brenda Laca & Sandra Carvalho. 2011. When perfect means plural: The Present Perfect in Northeastern Brazilian Portuguese. In: Patricia Cabredo Hofherr & Brenda Laca, eds., Layers of Aspect. Stanford: csli Publications, 67–100.

Comrie, Bernard. 1976. Aspect. An Introduction to the Study of Verbal Aspect and Related Problems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Crystal, David. 2011. Internet Linguistics. London: Routledge.

Dahl, Östen & Eva Hedin. 2000. Current relevance and event reference. In: Östen Dahl, ed., Tense and Aspect in the Languages of Europe. Berlin-New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 385–401.

Dahl, Östen. 2020. Perfects and iamitives in typological perspective: Some recent developments. Presentation at the Academia Grammaticorum Salensis Septima Decima, Salos, Lithuania.

Dahl, Östen. 1981. On the definition of the telic-atelic (bounded-nonbounded) distinction. In: Phillip Tedeschi & Annie Zaenen, eds., Tense and Aspect (Syntax and Semantics 14), New York: Academic Press, 79–90.

Dahl, Östen. 1985. Tense and Aspect Systems. Oxford-New York: Blackwell.

Dahl, Östen, ed., 2000. Tense and Aspect in the Languages of Europe. Berlin etc.: De Gruyter Mouton.

Dahl, Östen. 2014. The perfect map: Investigating the cross-linguistic distribution of TAME categories in a parallel corpus. In: Benedikt Szmrecsanyi & Bernhard Wälchli, eds., Aggregating Dialectology, Typology, and Register Analysis: Linguistic Variation in Text and Speech. Berlin-Boston: De Gruyter, 268–289.

Dahl, Östen & Bernhard Wälchli. 2016. Perfects and iamitives: two gram types in one grammatical space. Letras de Hoje 51.3, 325–348.

Drinka, Bridget. 2017. Language Contact in Europe: The Periphrastic Perfect through History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dryer, Matthew S. & Martin Haspelmath, eds. 2013. The World Atlas of Language Structures Online. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. (22 April, 2021).

Geniušienė, Emma Š. & Vladimir P. Nedjalkov. 1988. Resultative, passive, and perfect in Lithuanian. In: Vladimir P. Nedjalkov & Bernard Comrie, eds., The Typology of Resultative Constructions. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 369–386.

Heine, Bernd. 1993. Auxiliaries: Cognitive Forces and Grammaticalization. New York: Oxford University Press.

Heine, Bernd & Tania Kuteva. 2006. The Changing Languages of Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Holvoet, Axel & Juratė Pajėdienė. 2004. Laiko kategorija ir laiko formos. In: Gramatiniu̧ kategorijų tyrimai 2. Vilnius: Lietuvių kalbos institutas.

Jakubíček, Miloš, Adam Kilgarrif, Vojtěch Kovář, Pavel Rychlý and Vít Suchomel. 2013. The TenTen Corpus Family. 7th International Corpus Linguistics Conference CL, 125-127.

Jünger, Jakob & Till Keyling. 2019. Facepager. An application for automated data retrieval on the web.

Kiparsky, Paul. 2002. Event Structure and the Perfect. In: David I. Beaver, Luis D. Casillas Martínez, Brady Z. Clark, and Stefan Kaufmann, eds., The Construction of Meaning. Stanford: csli Publications, 113–132.

Klein, Wolfgang. 1992. The Present Perfect puzzle, Language 68, 525–552.

Kortmann, Bernd, ed., 2003. Dialectology meets Typology: Dialect Grammar from a Cross-Linguistic Perspective (Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs). Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Labov, William. 2006. Principles of linguistic change. Vol. 2: Social factors (Language in Society 29). Digital print. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.

Labov, William. 2007. Principles of linguistic change. Vol. 1: Internal factors (Language in Society 20). Reprinted. Oxford: Blackwell.

Lindstedt, Jouko. 2000. The perfect―aspectual, temporal and evidential. In Tense and Aspect in the Languages of Europe, 365–384. De Gruyter Mouton.

McCawley, James D. 1999. Some interactions between tense and negation in English. In: Peter C. Collins & David A. Lee, eds, The Clause in English: in Honour of Rodney D. Huddleston, Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 177–185.

Mikulskas, Rolandas. 2009. Jungties konstrukcijos ir jų gramatinis kontekstas. Acta Linguistica Lithuanica 61, 113–156.

Mikulskas, Rolandas. 2017. Copular Constructions in Lithuanian (Valency, Argument Realization and Grammatical Relations in Baltic, 4). Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Miller, Jim. 2003. Problems for typology: Perfects and resultatives in spoken and non-standard English and Russian. In: Bernd Kortmann, ed., Dialectology meets Typology: Dialect Grammar from a Cross-Linguistic Perspective. Berlin-New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 305–334.

Næss, Åshild. 2007. Prototypical Transitivity. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins. (1 March, 2021).

Nau, Nicole, Birutė Spraunienė & Vaiva Žeimantienė. 2020. The Passive Family in Baltic. Baltic Linguistics 11. (1 March, 2021).

Nedjalkov, Vladimir P. & Sergej Je. Jaxontov. 1988. In: Vladimir P. Nedjalkov & Bernard Comrie, eds., The Typology of Resultative Constructions. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing

Panov, Vladimir. 2020. Exploring the asymmetric coding of autobenefactive in Lithuanian and beyond. Baltic Linguistics 11, 343–371.

Reichenbach, Hans. 1947. Elements of Symbolic Logic. London: Macmillan.

Sakurai, Eiko. 2016. The perfect in Lithuanian: an empirical study. Valoda: nozīme un forma (7). 189–208.

Servaitė, Laimutė. 1985. Rezultatinės būsenos reikšmė lietuvių kalbos veiksmažodžio sudurtinių formų sistemoje (rezultatyvas). Kalbotyra 36.1, 63–71.

Servaitė, Laimutė. 1988. Subjektinis rezultatyvas lietuvių kalboje (Perfekto formos su rezultatinės būsenos reikšme) [Subjective resultative in Lithuanian (Perfect forms denoting resulting state)]. Kalbotyra 39.1, 81–89.

Sližienė, Nijolė. 1964. Apie sudurtines atliktines veiksmažodžio laikų ir nuosakų formas lietuvių literatūrinėje kalboje. Lietuvių kalbotyros klausimai 7, 81–95.

Spraunienė, Birutė & Paweł Brudzyński. 2021. The Lithuanian passive perfect and its history. Baltic Linguistics 12: Studies in the TAME Domain in Baltic and Its Neighbours (thematic volume), 167–207.

Suartini, Mario & Pier Marco Bertinetto. 2000. The Simple and Compound Past in Romance languages. In: Östen Dahl, ed.,Tense and Aspect Systems in the Languages of Europe. Berlin etc.: De Gruyter Mouton, 403–439.

Szmrecsanyi, Benedikt & Bernhard Wälchli, eds., 2014. Aggregating Dialectology, Typology, and Register Analysis: Linguistic Variation in Text and Speech. Berlin-Boston: De Gruyter.

van der Klijs, Martijn, Bert Le Bruyn & Henriëtte de Swart. 2020. A multilingual corpus study of the competition between past and perfect in narrative discourse. Utrecht University.

Velupillai, Viveka & Östen Dahl. 2013. The Perfect. In Matthew S. Dryer & Martin Haspelmath, eds., The World Atlas of Language Structures Online. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. (10 March, 2021).

Wälchli, Bernhard & Michael Cysouw. 2012. Lexical typology through similarity semantics: Toward a semantic map of motion verbs. Linguistics 50.3, 671–710.

Wiemer, Björn. 2010. Lithuanian esą—a heterosemic reportive marker in its contemporary stage. Baltic Linguistics 1, 245–308.

Wiemer, Björn. 2012. The Lithuanian have-resultative―A typological curiosum? Lingua Posnaniensis 54.2, 69–81.

Wiemer, Björn & Markus Giger. 2005. Resultativa in den nordslavischen und baltischen Sprachen: Bestandsaufnahme unter arealen und grammatikalisierungstheoretischen Gesichtspunkten (lincom Studies in Language Typology 10). München: Lincom.

Published : 2022-01-03

Kapkan, D. (2022). Perfect in Lithuanian: A case study based on data from Facebook comments. Baltic Linguistics, 12(12), 21-71.

Danguolė Kotryna Kapkan 
Vilnius University  Lithuania