The Lithuanian mirative present and its history


The article deals with a Lithuanian mirative construction based on the present active participle with the continuative and progressive prefix be-. In Lithuanian grammar it has been described as a tense form or (more recently) as a member of the evidential system, but it is here dealt with as a construction in its own right. On the basis of a corpus search the authors attempt to define the place of the mirative present among constructions containing the present active participle with the prefix be-, as well as its formal and functional properties and lexical input. In the diachronic section of the article it is suggested that the rise of the construction under discussion could have been, at least partly, the outcome of a distinct path of grammaticalisation (involving a post-nominal participial modifier in a presentative construction), different from that of both the progressiveproximative tense forms containing the participle with be- and the evidential forms based on participles. This, however, was not necessarily the only source of the construction: the pragmatic and emotive overtones developed by present progressives have probably also contributed to it. Mirativity has hitherto been known as one of the cluster of meanings characteristic of the Lithuanian evidential, but the analysis carried out in the article suggests that Lithuanian also has mirativity as a category in its own right, distinct from evidentiality.


Lithuanian, mirativity, evidentiality, progressive, presentative construction

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Published : 2022-01-03

Holvoet, A., & Kavaliūnaitė, G. (2022). The Lithuanian mirative present and its history. Baltic Linguistics, 12(1), 413-439.

Axel Holvoet 
Vilnius University  Lithuania
Gina Kavaliūnaitė 
Vilnius University  Lithuania