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Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Apr 26 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,470 points) | 21 views

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There are four constructions in Mandarin Chinese that are result-oriented: the Bǎ sentence, the Bèi sentence, the null Bèi sentence and the De complement sentence (it is referred to as the complement of degree in Chinese grammar). We claim that they are structures to encode the notion of result of an event, because all the predicates of the four constructions are restricted to verb phrases expressing

results. For example:

1a. 弟弟把作业做好了。

Dìdi bǎ zuòyè zuòhǎo le.

(My younger brother finished his homework .)

1b. 张三作业做得好好的。

Zhāng Sān zuòyè zuòdé hǎohāo de.

(Zhang San’s homework was done very well.)

1b’ 李四跑得满头大汗。

Lǐ Sì pǎo de mǎntóu dàhàn.

(Lǐ Sì ran and as a result, he became sweaty all over his head.)

1c.玻璃被打破了。

Bōli bèi dǎpò le.

(The glass was broken.)

1d. 玻璃 (打) 破了。

Bōli (dǎ) pò le.

(The glass was broken.)

These sentences exemplify the four well-known special constructions in Chinese. They are grouped together because they all contain a result-oriented complement. In (1a), the complement 好‘hǎo’, with the meaning of ‘completion’, combines with the Activity verb 做‘zuò’ (do), denoting the phase of the action of ‘doing’ has reached to. In (1b), the complement 好好的‘hǎohāo de’ (be finished and ready), introduced by the structural particle 得‘de’, combines with the verb 做‘zuò’ in the same way as does 好‘hǎo’ in (1a), signaling the resultative state of the object NP ‘the homework’. The complement 满头大汗‘mǎntóu dàhàn’ (full head of sweat) in (1b’) is result-oriented as well, it describes the subject referent’s resultative state arising form his running. In (1c, d) , the RVC 打破‘dǎpò’ (broken as a result of being hit) and the adjective stative verb 破‘pò’ (break) combined with the perfective 了‘le’ both signify result. Hence the above four constructions are the ones reserved for expressing and highlighting the result of an action or event in Chinese.

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.
answered Apr 26 by Ariel (34,470 points)

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