City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Apr 26 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,480 points) | 16 views

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In our discussion of the order of the clause element of adverbials with respect to the verb, we also apply the notion of semantic scope. Semantic scope is a general term that we shall use to describe the semantic ‘influence’ that negative forms and some adverbs exert on neighboring parts of a sentence. They have a logical function in that their contribution to the meaning of the sentence can stretch well beyond the particular phrase in which they occur, and their position may bring particular significance to the meaning of a sentence (Quirk et al, 1985). For instance, the position of the negative adverbs 不/没‘bù/méi’ (not, no) and the adverb 都‘dōu’ (no, not) is significant in marking the elements following them as within their semantic domain. Compare 他们都没去。‘Tāmen dōu méi qù’ (None of them went) with 他们没都去。‘Tāmen méi dōu qù’ (Not all of them went). The totally different readings of the sentences arise from the different ordering of the negative form and the adverb 都‘dōu’ (both, all). The general rule is that whichever element includes the other in its scope comes first. The difference in meaning correlates precisely with difference in scope (Li & Thompson, 1981). The notion of semantic scope deserves our attention because of its close connection with the ordering of clause elements.

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.
answered Apr 26 by Ariel (34,480 points)

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