City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Apr 21 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,470 points) | 21 views

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The Principle of Temporal Sequence (PTS) was proposed by linguist Tai in 1985. The principle states: “The relative word order between syntactic units is determined by the temporal order of the states they represent in the conceptual world.” The PTS controls the order of co-verbs (or prepositions) and the verbs they go with:

a.我从家去图书馆。

Wǒ cóng jiā qù túshūguǎn.

(I went to the library from home.)

b. 妈妈在厨房做饭。

Māma zài chúfáng zuò fàn.

(Mother is cooking in the kitchen.)

In (a) the prepositional phrase ‘cóng jiā’ (from home) indicates the origin or point of departure. ‘qù túshūguǎn’ (go to library) denotes the destination. The event of starting from the point of departure happens before the event of arriving at the destination. Hence the word order is governed by the PTS. In (b), ‘zài’ (exist) expresses the existence state of the subject referent ‘māma’ (mother) in the location of the kitchen before she performs the action of cooking. She must first be present at the location before she can conduct the action of cooking. Thus the word order is controlled by the PTS.

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.
answered Apr 21 by Ariel (34,470 points)

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