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Making Sense of Grammar
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Where should the head of a verb be placed in a compound verb?

asked Jan 2, 2018 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by admin (23,690 points)
edited Apr 25, 2018 by admin

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According to Packard’s finding, 85% of compound verbs have a verbal formant on the left. The left-hand rule indicates that, in most cases, the head of a verb is on the left-hand side.

In V-O type verbal compounds, since the morphemes on the left are the sole verbal elements in the compounds, it is quite intuitive to view them as the head of the verb. For instance, 鬧鬼 (n`ao-gu˘ı/ to haunt) is a typical verbal compound with head on the left.

As for verb–verb compounds, most of them are composed of a verb that is followed by a resultative complement. Therefore, this type of compounds is also called “VR compound.” A common characteristic of the morpheme on the right in a resultative verb compound is to indicate a resultant state of an action symbolized by the morpheme on the left. For example, in the compound 打破 (d˘a-p`o/ to break), 打 (d˘a/ hit) is the main action and  (p`o/ break) is the resultant state of the action.

Reference: Chinese: a linguistic introduction by Chao Fen Sun

answered Jan 2, 2018 by admin (23,690 points)
edited Apr 25, 2018 by admin
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