The paper presents a contrastive study of habitual constructions in Slavic and Germanic, with particular focus on the verbal quantifiers byvalo in Russian and used to in English. The basic idea is to analyze the temporal make-up of these constructions in the light of the sequence of tense parameter. Of particular interest in this respect is the use of present tense morphology (in combination with the perfective or imperfective aspect) under byvalo. It is argued that this construction is reminiscent of the use of the present tense in Russian subordinate clauses under attitude verbs. In both cases the embedded verb is semantically tenseless and dependent on (bound by) a matrix verbal quantifier.
If this explanation is on the right track, it should probably not only cover habituals proper since the same temporal patterns are also observed with implicative verbs (“it happened”). Russian displays an interesting contrast between byvalo (habitual) byvalo, čto (implicative) – and in both cases present tense forms can be used in the embedded verbs.
The empirical basis for the study was provided by the multilingual RuN-Euro parallel corpus. The corpus data allow us to contrast different temporal, aspectual and morpho-syntactic aspects of the constructions in question in various languages.
2011. no 52, 63-80 p.