Laboratorio di Linguistica
'Giovanni Nencioni'

















Verb Features



Coordinator: Pier Marco Bertinetto

Staff involved: Anna Alexandrova, Cristina Bertoncin, Anna Lentovskaya, Clémentine Pacmogda, Danica Pušic.


Valentina Bambini (IUSS, Pavia)
Olga Batiukova (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
Gordana Hrzica (Università di Zagabria)
Alexandra Kratschmer (University of Aarhus)
Alessandro Lenci (Università di Pisa)
Alessandra Zarcone (Universität Stuttgart)


The study of verbal features, with special emphasis on actionality, temporal reference, aspect and, more recently, modality (henceforth, ATAM), is a long-standing focus of interest of LABLIN’s scholars and PhD students. Despite the abundant literature relating to this topic, the disagreement on even basic concepts is still a hall-mark of this field. One of the aims of this research line is to contribute to gather solid evidence for theoretical clarification.

Ongoing projects

The acquisition of ATAM features

It is generally assumed that the acquisition of ATAM features is guided by language-independent universal principles. Depending on the scholar, the trigger for acquisition is either actionality or aspect, to the extent that a clear distinction between these two categories is assumed to exist. However, behavioral evidence on Italian, Austrian German, Croatian and Mòoré (see also Endangered languages) collected by LABLIN’s researchers within a large cross-linguistic project supports an alternative hypothesis, namely, that the individual language’s morphology is the leading factor in the acquisition process.


Concerning actionality, we are collecting a large amount of experimental evidence in support of the hypothesis that actional classes are based on underlying features, whose effect can be experimentally detected in the on-line processing of speech.
In addition, a Russian-Italian contrastive study is currently addressing the semantic properties of “comparative” verbs, that present a hybrid status between telicity and atelicity.


Epistemicity is experimentally investigated as a fundamental component of modality, yielding empirically observable consequences in language processing.
In addition, evidential expressions in Basque are currently under scrutiny.



PhD dissertations

In progress

Anna Alexandrova: On punctual verbs in a typological perspective.

Cristina Bertoncin: On epistemicity and evidentiality in Basque.

Anna Lentovskaya: On actional categories in Russian verbs.

Danica Pušic: On the Serbo-Croatian verbal system.


Talatou Clémentine Pacmogda (2012): Acquisition du système temporel mòore. External supervisors: Sophie Kern - Alessandro Lenci - Norbert Nikiéma.



Verbal Features 2010

XXXI° Congresso della Società Italiana di Glottologia 2006


Recent publications

BERTINETTO Pier Marco, Alessandro LENCI, Eva Maria FREIBERGER, Sabrina NOCCETTI, Maddalena AGONIGI submitted. The acquisition of tense and aspect in a morphology-sensitive framework. Data from Italian and Austrian-German children.

BATIUKOVA Olga, Pier Marco BERTINETTO, Alessandro LENCI & Alessandra ZARCONE 2012. Semantic Priming Study of Russian Aspect and Resultativity. In A. GRØNN & A. PAZELSKAYA (eds.) The Russian Verb, Oslo Studies in Language 4(1): 177-206.

BAMBINI Valentina, Alexandra KRATSCHMER & Irene RICCI 2012. Correlati comportamentali delle gradazioni epistemiche. In V. BAMBINI, I. RICCI, P.M. BERTINETTO & Collaboratori (eds.), Linguaggio e cervello – Semantica / Language and the brain – Semantics. Atti del XLII Congresso Internazionale di Studi della Società di Linguistica Italiana. Roma: Bulzoni, Vol. II.

BERTINETTO Pier Marco & Anna LENTOVSKAYA 2012. A diachronic view of the actional/aspectual properties of Russian verbs. Russian Linguistics 36,1: 1-19.

BATIUKOVA Olga, Pier Marco BERTINETTO, Alessandro LENCI & Alessandra ZARCONE 2011. Identifying actional features through semantic priming: cross-Romance comparison. Proceedings of the 10th Chronos Conference, Birmingham, April 2011.

ZARCONE Alessandra & Alessandro LENCI 2010. Priming Effects on Event Types Classification: Effects of Word and Picture Stimuli. Poster presented at Cogsci 2010, Annual Meeting Of The Cognitive Science Society, Portland, OR, 11-14 August, 2010.

BERTINETTO Pier Marco 2008. Tense-Aspect acquisition meets typology. In: NISHIDA Chiyo & Cinzia RUSSI (eds.), Building a bridge between linguistic communities of the Old and New World: Current research in tense, aspect, mood and modality, Amsterdam / New York, Rodopi: 45-68.

last up-dating: January 2015




Speech production and perception

Prosody and Phonotactics

Verb Features

Experimental Pragmatics and Neuropragmatics

Morphosyntactic Investigations

Endangered languages

Corpora building and maintenance