City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Apr 27 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,470 points) | 32 views

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To illustrate how Chinese word order is organized by the PTS, please consider:

1. 他上岸躺在沙滩上晒太阳。

Tā shàng'àn tǎng zài shātān shàng shài tàiyáng.

(He climbed up the bank, lay on the beach and basked in the sun.)

The situation described by (1) involves three events, active and stative, which are arranged in terms of the temporal sequence of events happening in the physical world. The word order of the sentence abides by the PTS, and it is parallel to the human perception of the order of phenomena in the world, so the word order is natural. It is controversial if the position of adverbials with respect to the verb they modify observes the PTS. As we will show in the following sections, adverbials have multiple semantic roles, so it is reasonable to expect that different types of adverbials will follow different conceptual principles. We will argue that the order of adverbials of subject, space and process, as they depict states or accompanying actions, abides by the PTS; and the order of adverbials of time is regulated by the conceptual Principle of Temporal Scope (PTSC). By contrast, the order of adverbials of modality, which expresses the speaker’s comments and opinions, assessment and evaluation of a situation, is governed by the notion of semantic scope and Haiman’s (1983) distance motivation, since these ideas have nothing to do with time.

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.
answered Apr 27 by Ariel (34,470 points)

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