City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Jun 18 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,480 points) | 26 views

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The following examples (1a, b, c) show that the located objects occupy a space projected upward from the highest limiting points of the reference objects. The spatial expression is ‘Y (reference object) + VP zhe + X (located object)’:

1a. 桌子上边吊着一盏灯。

Zhuōzi shàngbian diào zhe yī zhǎn dēng.

(Over the table was hanging a lamp.)

1b. 壁炉上边挂着一幅油画。

Bìlú shàngbian guàzhe yī fú yóuhuà.

(Over the fireplace was hanging an oil painting.)

1c. 城墙上边飘扬着彩旗。

Chéngqiáng shàngbian piāoyáng zhe cǎiqí.

(Over the city wall were fluttering colored flags.)

1d. 城墙上边贴着布告。

Chéngqiáng shàngbian tiē zhe bùgào.

(On the city wall there was pasted a bulletin.)

1e. 城墙上边架着大炮。

Chéngqiáng shàngbian jià zhe dàpào.

(On the top of the city wall were emplaced cannons on their wagons.)

Please note in (1c, d, e) the phrase ‘chéngqiáng shàngbian’ has different interpretations. It refers to the space higher than the highest limiting point of the city wall (1c), or to the side surface of the wall (1d), or the top (surface) of the city wall (1e). In each case, the city wall is viewed as a cube. In these situations, it is the semantic and pragmatic context that determines the spatial relationships more precisely. In the above cases, when the position word ‘shàngbian’ denotes the spatial relationship of superiority, the locative object has no contact with the reference object, or it may also be argued that the relationship between the locative and reference object is interaction between superiority and coincidence, because the located object occupies a space that is coincident with the space projected upward from the highest limiting points of the reference objects.

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.
answered Jun 18 by Ariel (34,480 points)

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