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 (34,470 points) | 23 views

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The subject may still have the semantic role of Instrument, that is, the entity (generally inanimate) which the Agent uses to perform an action.

1a.一块石头飞来,打破了他的头。

Yī kuài shítou fēi lái ,dǎ pò le tā de tóu.

(A stone flew over and broke his head.)

1b. 那辆汽车把孩子撞倒了。

Nà liàng qìchē bǎ háizi zhuàng dǎo le.

(That car knocked the child down.)

The subject NPs in (1) are inanimate entities causally involved in the events. They exert no action of their own; instead, they must be acted on by something else in order to participate in the events, so the energy source is external to them. Thus the responsibility for the events is ultimately attributable to humans. Hence the subject NPs are Instrument, which is closely associated with Agent.

[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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