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 (34,480 points) | 57 views

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Downtoners generally have a lowering effect on the force of the verb or predicate (Quirk et al, 1985). They include: ‘chà yìdiǎner’ (almost), ‘chàbùduō’ (almost), ‘jǐhū’ (almost), ‘shíjìshang/shízhì shàng’ (virtually), etc., they express an approximation to the force of the verb.

3a. 我差一点儿忘了。

Wǒ chà yìdiǎner wàng le.

(I almost forgot.) [But in fact I didn’t.]

3b. 他们的回答实质上是接受了我们的建议。

Tāmen de hudá shíjìthe shàng shì jiēshòu le wǒmen de jiànyì.

(Their reply virtually means acceptance of our proposal.)

[Though they didn’t yet accept it.]

3c. 他几乎破产了。

Tā jǐhū pòchǎn le.

(He nearly became bankrupt.) [But in fact he wasn’t bankrupt yet.]

3d. 他差不多是跪下求情了。

Tā chàbùduō shì kuìxià qiúqíng le.

(He almost knelt down to beg for leniency.) [But, in fact, he didn’t.]

3e. 这件事儿几乎不可能。

Zhèjiànshì jīhū bù kěnéng.

(This matter was almost impossible.) [In fact, it happened.]

This type of adverbial expresses approximation to the force of the verb; it implies a denial of the truth value of the verb, as shown by the paraphrases supplied within the brackets.

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

answered Jun 10 by Ariel (34,480 points)

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