City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
0 like 0 dislike
27 views
asked Jun 20 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,470 points) | 27 views

1 Answer

0 like 0 dislike
The existential ‘yǒu’ sentence pattern: ‘NPloc (Reference object) + yǒu + Located object’ In this pattern, the sentence-initial position is occupied by the NP denoting reference object or place, this means the NP of place takes on the function of topic. As topic, it must be definite, namely, it conveys known information both to the speaker and the hearer, or the position or place is known to them both. The verb ‘yǒu’ expresses the meaning of existence. The located object, because of its end position, must be indefinite, or it conveys new information to the hearer. Thus the sentence pattern starts out with a known locative NP as the topic and proceeds with the comment about what is to be found in the place. The communicative function of the sentence pattern is to tell the hearer what there is in the reference object or the place. The reference object is often expressed by a locative NP, which can be different kinds of NPs, as shown:

1a. 附近有一家医院。

Fùjìn yǒu yījiā yīyuàn.

(There is a hospital nearby.)

1b. 屋子里边好像有人。

Wūzi lǐbian hǎoxiàng yǒu rén.

(There seemed to be somebody in the room.)

1c. 北京有很多名胜古迹。

Běijīng yǒu hěn duō míngshènggǔjì.

(There are many places of historic interest and scenic beauty in Beijing.)

1d. 你们那儿有农贸市场吗?

Nǐmen nàr yǒu nóngmào shìchǎng ma?

(Are there any farmers’ markets in your place?)

The initial expressions representing the reference object or place are encoded by a noun phrase as ‘fùjìn’ (vicinity) and ‘Běijīng’ (Beijing), adverbial pronouns like ‘nǐmen nàr’ (you there), and compound position nouns, like ‘wūzi lǐbian’ (room inside). They represent ‘given’ information, or the referents they refer to are known to the hearer. The located objects convey new information, as proved by their indefinite identity expressed by indefinite nouns marked by ‘yī’ (one) and ‘hěn duō’ (many). The existence ‘yǒu’ sentence pattern is based on the Chinese conceptual Principle of Container-Before-Contained (Hu, 1995), the reference object is regarded as a container, and the located object, which is unknown or represents new information to the hearer, is the content contained by the container―the reference object.

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.
answered Jun 20 by Ariel (34,470 points)

1,435 questions

1,732 answers

21 comments

11,700 users

1,435 questions
1,732 answers
21 comments
11,700 users