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Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Aug 4 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,480 points) | 22 views

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In Chinese, both property and stative adjectives are used to describe states. But only property adjectives can act as inchoative verbs1 to denote a change of state, whereas stative adjectives cannot. Adjectives, when describing states that do not involve any change, are incompatible with aspect particles ‘zhe’ or ‘le’, as shown by the ungrammaticality of (1a’). However, when a property adjective used as an inchoative signaling a change of state, it must be combined with the inchoative aspect particle ‘le’, as shown by (1a”):

1a. 花儿红,叶儿绿。

Huār hóng, yèr lǜ .

(The flowers are red, and the leaves are green.)

1a’ * 花儿红着/了,叶儿绿着/了。

Huāér hóng zhe/le, yèér lǜ zhe/le.

(Note: ‘le’ may occur with adjectives to indicate a change of state.)

1b. 秋天来了,树叶都红了。

Qiūtiān lái le, shùyè dōu hóng le.

(The autumn has come; the leaves have all turned red.)

1b’ *秋天来了,树叶都红彤彤了。

*Qiūtiān lái le, shùyè dōu hóngtōngtōng le.

‘hóng’ (red) and ‘lǜ’ (green) in (1a) are adjectives describing states, so they cannot occur with the aspect particles ‘zhe’ or ‘le’. In (1b), the adjective ‘hóng’ indicates a change of state, then the occurrence of ‘le’ signifying a change of state is obligatory. (1b’) shows that a stative adjective cannot function as an inchoative. Thus, we may predict that a stative adjective cannot function as a resultative complement occurring in the slot V2 of the RVC.

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.
answered Aug 4 by Ariel (34,480 points)

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