City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Jun 10 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,470 points) | 18 views

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Adverbials of emphasis or ‘emphasizers’ are normally positioned prior to the constituents they apply to. Some emphasizers may appear in the initial position if they apply to the whole sentence concerned. Their position with respect to the constituent they apply to is explainable in terms of the notion of semantic scope, which is concerned with the semantic influence that a negative adverb or a focusing adverbial exerts on its neighboring parts of a sentence. As stated above, the function of emphasizers is to increase the force of a constituent, or to have a reinforcing effect on the truth value of a predicate or part of a predicate. The constituent thus emphasized must be placed within the semantic influence or scope of the emphasizer. We draw the analogy that the constituent lying within the semantic scope of the emphasizer must follow the emphasizer and remain as close to it as possible. This accounts for the preverbal position of emphasizing adverbs. This rule is in line with Heiman’s distance motivation or the Principle of Semantic Proximity and the general Principle of Whole-Before-Part, since in reality the whole has the force to include and govern the part.

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.
answered Jun 10 by Ariel (34,470 points)

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