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) | 21 views

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Events are associated with entities, that is, the persons or things that participate in the execution of active events. To understand the roles of entities in events, we need to get familiar with the fundamental ideas: predicate, predication and arguments. Predication is the abstract way that entities or individuals may be involved in events (Frawley, 1992). Linguistic expressions express two kinds of things: 1) individuals that are independent and can stand alone; 2) things that are not independent and cannot stand alone. They are qualities, relations, actions, properties and states. To illustrate the point, let’s look at an example: The word 帽子‘màozi’(hat) represents an independent entity or an individual, because the referent of 帽子‘màozi’ (hat) can be understood outside any circumstance, time or person. Now consider the words 红‘hóng’ (red), 在…上‘zài…shàng’ (on), and 掉‘diào’ (fall). They represent quality, relation and action which are inherently dependent, that is to say, their denotations or what they represent can only be understood when they are attributed to things, as when we say 一顶红帽子。‘yī dǐng hóng màozi’ (a red hat), 在帽子上。‘zài màozi shàng’ (on the hat), and 帽子掉下去了。‘màozi diào xiàqù le’ (the hat fell down). The inherently dependent phenomena like quality, relation, property, action and state are predicates, the independent individuals are arguments. The linking of a predicate with its arguments is known as predication. Still consider an example: 那个男孩在图书馆里看书。‘Nàge nánhái zài túshūguǎn lǐ kàn shū’ (That boy was reading in the library). The verb 看‘kàn’ (look at, read) is the predicate. The event named by the verb must be done by somebody and of something. Each entity or individual 那个男孩‘Nàge nánhái’ (the boy) and 书‘shū’ (book) are arguments of the predicate 看‘kàn’ (read), and the linking of the verb and the two arguments, the subject noun phrase (NP) and the object NP, is the predication.

[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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