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 (28,250 points) | 19 views

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Logically, object represents the entity that is the recipient of an action or event. The logical recipient is directly affected by the event, so it undergoes the event and comes out changed as a result of the event named by the verb. The affectedness experienced by the object is related to the degree of activity of the verb. Compare: ‘Tom burned the book’ and ‘Tom bought some books’. The verb ‘burn’ expresses a potent action, so the object is totally affected. The total affectedness of the object normally requires that the object NP here be individualized (i.e. having definite reference). By contrast, the verb ‘buy’ does not have high activity, so the object is not individualized and not totally affected. In both events, however, the object ‘book’ is affected by the actions denoted by the verbs in some way. The degree of effect on the object is controlled by the Agent through a predicate, while the affectedness of the Agent by the events is hardly discernable. Hence we may say, compared with object, subject is more stable. The object, being directly affected by the verb, is more closely bound up with the verb than the subject. In terms of Haiman’s distance motivation, object is ordered next to the verb. The affectedness and change of state experienced by the object signifies new information, hence the object tends to occur after the subject, and at the end of the sentence as the focus of the sentence.

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.
answered Apr 26 by Ariel (28,250 points)

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