City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
0 like 0 dislike
19 views
asked Jun 18 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,480 points) | 19 views

1 Answer

0 like 0 dislike

Subject-oriented adverbials, as they characterize the subject referent with respect to the action and state denoted by the verb, should be positioned both close to the subject and to the verb in terms of the Principle of SP. However, if temporal and positional adverbials are both present in the sentence, the subject adverbial follows them, as shown by (1a), please look at another example:

1a. 同学们昨天下午(time adv.)在教室里(positional adv.)就毕业分配的问题(respect adv.)热烈地(subj. adv.)展开了讨论。

Tóngxué men zuótiān xiàwǔ zài jiàoshì lǐ jiù bìyèfēnpèi de wèntí rèliè de zhǎnkāi le tǎolùn.

1a’ 昨天下午(time adv.)同学们在教室里(positional adv.)就毕业分配的问题(adv. of respect)热烈地(subj. adv.)展开了讨论。

Zuótiān xiàwǔ tóngxué men zài jiàoshì lǐ jiù bìyèfēnpèi de wèntí rèliè de zhǎnkāi le tǎolùn.

(Yesterday afternoon the students enthusiastically held a discussion concerning their job assignments after graduation in the classroom.)

1b. 到那时候(time adv.),你真的(emphasis adv.)能心平气和地(subj. adv.)接受这一切么?

Dào nà shíhou, nǐ zhēn de néng xīnpíngqìhé de jiēshòu zhè yīqiè me ?

(By that time could you really accept all that with perfect calm?)

1c. 老头走在前面,然后(time adv.)在车门口(positional adv.)小心翼翼地(manner adv.)扶着这老太太下车。

Lǎotóu zǒu zài qiánmian, ránhòu zài chēménkǒu xiǎoxīnyìyì de fú zhe zhè lǎotàitai xiàchē.

(The old man walked first, and then helped the old woman get off the bus carefully at the door of the bus.)

In (1a), the series of multiple adverbials is ordered as: the adverbial of time, which is more peripheral and can function as a sentential adverbial occurring at the beginning of a sentence (as in (1a’)); next comes the positional adverbial, which is followed by the adverbial of respect and subject-oriented adverbial successively. The adverbial of respect identifies a relevant point of reference in respect of which the clause concerned derives its truth value (Quirk, 1985: 483). For instance: the adverbial ‘jiù bìyèfēnpèi de wèntí’ (concerning the issue of job assignment after graduation) sets up a reference point, with respect to which the predication ‘rèliè de zhǎnkāi le tǎolùn’ (enthusiastically hold a discussion) is true. Because the adverbial of respect signals a reference point against which the truth value of the predication is judged, it functions like a semantic frame, hence it is ordered prior to the VP, and before the subject-oriented adverbial. Please look at (1b), the adverbial of modality ‘zhēn de’ (really) is placed before the subject-oriented adverbial. This is because it concerns the whole predication or the clause, but not just the verb within the clause. Hence, in accordance with the notion of semantic scope, it occurs before the predication so that the whole predication is placed within its semantic domain. On the other hand, the subject-oriented adverbial ‘xīnpíngqìhé de’ (perfectly calm) is the subject referent's mental state related to the action named by the verb, so it should be positioned close to the verb as well. This accounts for its order after the adverbial of modality.

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

answered Jun 18 by Ariel (34,480 points)

1,435 questions

1,732 answers

21 comments

12,676 users

1,435 questions
1,732 answers
21 comments
12,676 users