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Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Jun 10 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (31,850 points) | 10 views

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The key items in realizing adverbials of backward span are prepositions ‘zì…yǐlái’ (since), ‘dǎ…shíhou qǐ’ (since…), ‘cóng…qǐ’ (from…), ‘cóng…yǐlái’姓(from…), they introduce either a prepositional phrase or a clause. The backward span indicates the stretch of time back from the speaker’s ‘now’; the span occurs with verbs describing continuous actions or states. It is often used with the perfective aspect particle ‘le’, which denotes that the action or state extends up to the ‘now’ of the speaker (that is, the time of ‘primary concern’ to the speaker, which may be ‘then’ if it is a past time that is of primary concern).

Please refer to Figure V and sentence (1a).

1a. 他从孩童起就喜欢画钢笔画了。

Tā cóng háitóng qǐ jiù xǐhuan huà gāngbǐ huà le .

(He has liked to draw with a pen since he was a child.)

1b. 中国农业,自古以来在水的条件方面一直不理想

Zhōngguó nóngyè, zìgǔyǐlái zài shuǐ de tiáojiàn fāngmiàn yī zhí bù lǐxiǎng.

(Since ancient times, the water supply has not been ideal for China’s agriculture.)

1c. 大约两岁半起,儿童可以用复合句表达自己的意思。

Dàyuē liǎngsuì bàn qǐ, értóng kěyǐ yòng fùhéjù biǎodá zìjǐ de yìsi.

(From about two and a half years old, a child is capable of expressing his ideas by using complex sentences.)

1d. 近百年来,我们大大地落后了。

Jìn bǎi nián lái, wǒmen dàdàdi luòhòu le .

(We have been left far behind for the past one hundred years.)

The adverbials of backward span ‘cóng…qǐ’ (from…) and ‘zì…yǐlái’ (since…) specify a span of time and also mark the starting point, in (1a), for example, the starting point is ‘childhood’. In (1d) the time span expressed by the adverbial phrase ‘jìn bǎinián lái’ (in recent one hundred years), however, is ‘unlocated’ in the past, but because the clause has the verb ‘luòhòu’ (leg behind) in the perfective aspect, we know that the time span extends to the ‘now’, and the hearer is able to count back and calculate the proximate initial point in the span. All backward time spans are used with continuous actions and states.

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.

answered Jun 10 by Ariel (31,850 points)

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