atelicity
Definition - The property of a verbal statement such that it indicates that an action or event is incomplete in some way.

Notes:
1. In contrast, the property of a verbal statement such that it indicates that an action or event is complete in some way is called telicity.
2. A verbal statement having this property is said to be atelic, whereas a verbal statement that presents the action or event as being complete is said to be telic.

Example -
(1) One way to gauge whether the verbal statement is atelic is to see whether a phrase like for a month - which indicates that an act is incomplete - can be used with it, e.g.

John built houses for a month.

(This sounds right which indicates that built houses is atelic)


(2) Alternatively, a way to test whether the verbal statement is telic is to see whether a phrase like in an hour - which indicates that an act has been completed - works with it, e.g.

John built a fence in an hour.

(This sounds right which indicates that built a fence is telic)

Etymology -
The term derives from the Greek a- (short for apo, away), not +telos, end or goal.



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