City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Jun 20 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,470 points) | 28 views

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The situation type described by a verb is mainly determined by the inherent lexical aspect of the verb. We should be aware that, however, the basic aspectual meaning of a verb is difficult to specify. One reason is that many times a verb has different shades of meaning, and occurs in different structures, which gives rise to differences in its inherent aspectual features. For instance, the verb ‘xiǎng’ (think) in the sentence ‘Wǒ xiǎng tā shì yī ge Fǎguó rén’ (I think he is French) names a state, while in the sentence ‘Wǒ zài xiǎng jiějué zhège wèntí de bànfǎ’ (I am thinking of a way to solve the problem), it names an Activity. In addition, the role played by a nominal argument must be taken into account, since most of Accomplishment verbs consist of a verb and an accompanying single or a count object. For instance, ‘xiě xìn’ (write letters) designates an Activity, by contrast, ‘xiě sān fēng xìn’ (write three letters) designates an Accomplishment (i.e., for which a goal or objective is implied). It is important to note that any verb in a vacuum cannot be classified. The aspectual meaning of a verb does not arise simply from the semantics of individual verbs, in fact, it is a feature of an entire sentence, rather than of a single verb.

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

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