City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Jun 18, 2021 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,480 points) | 119 views

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Semantic factors have an important bearing on the relative positions of adverbials. The sequence of multiple adverbials is determined by their semantic roles and will normally appear in terms of the PTS in the order as: “time adverbial – position adverbial – subject-oriented adverbial – source/direction adverbial – manner adverbial + VP”, for instance:

1a. 他每天晚上(time adv)在家里(positional adv)安安静静地(manner adv)做作业。

Tā měitiān wǎnshang zài jiāli ānānjīngjīng de zuò zuòyè.

(Every evening he stays at home and does his homework quietly.)

1b. 我们高高兴兴地(subj.adv)从墓园(source adv)走回家。

Wǒmen gāogāoxīngxīng de cóng mùyuán zǒuhuí jiā .

(We went back home from the cemetery happily.)

1c. 他愤怒地(subj. adv)从女人的手里(source adv)一把(manner adv)夺回了车钥匙。

Tā fènnù de cóng nǚrén de shǒulǐ yī bǎ duó huí le chē yàoshi.

(He angrily grabbed the car key from the woman’s hand.)

1d. 她带着一脸不满意的神情(subj. adv.)对她(target adv.)说:“你应该早点儿还给我…”

Tā dài zhe yīliǎn bù mǎnyì de shénqíng duì tā shuō:“nǐ yīnggāi zǎodiǎn hái gěi wǒ,…”

(With an unsatisfactory expression on her face, she said to her: “You should have returned it to me earlier, …”

1e. 老头从容不迫地(subj.adv.)一步步地(manner adv.)走过来,用好像生气的眼光看着母亲的脸(manner adv.)。

Lǎotóu cōngróngbùpò de yī bùbù de zǒu guòlai, yòng hǎoxiàng shēngqì de yǎnguāng kàn zhe mǔqīn de liǎn.

(Calm and unhurried, the old man came over step by step, and looked at the face of the Mother with a seemingly angry eye.)

Sentences (1a) contains three adverbials, they are arranged in the order as indicated in the above formula. The adverbial of time ‘měitiān wǎnshang’ (every evening) may be placed in the initial position as a sentential adverbial. In (1b, c), there are two or three adverbials, one is the subject-oriented adverbial, the other is the adverbial of source or manner. The former is more related to the subject referent, thus, in accordance with the principle of SP (namely Haiman’s distance motivation), its position is close to the subject. The adverbial of manner which depicts the fashion in which the action named by the verb is conducted, is so closely related to the verb that it is arrayed nearest the verb. Please note in (1e), the subject-oriented adverbial ‘cōngróngbùpò de’ (calm and unhurried) is placed right after the subject referent, the manner adverbial ‘yī bùbù de’ (step by step) precedes the verb phrase ‘zǒu guòlái’ (come over) that it modifies, while another manner adverbial ‘yòng hǎoxiàng shēngqì de yǎnguāng’ (with a seemingly angry eye) precedes the verb phrase ‘kàn zhe mǔqīn de liǎn’ (look at the Mother’s face) to which it applies. As we have examined in detail in Section and, the states described by adverbials of manner and of subject obtain before or simultaneously with the action named by the verb, therefore, these kinds of adverbial must occur prior to the verb in terms of the PTS. Hence, both the PTS and SP play an important role in ordering multiple adverbials.

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

answered Jun 18, 2021 by Ariel (34,480 points)

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