City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Aug 4 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,480 points) | 16 views

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As for ‘pǎo’ (run) and ‘zǒu’ (walk), they are intransitive verbs indicating volitional actions that involve an Agent, as such they do not express a change of state, so generally they are disqualified from entering the slot of V2. But we do find many well-formed RVCs with intransitives like ‘pǎo’ (run), and ‘zǒu’ (walk) as complements, for instance:

1a. 张三库走了客人。

Zhāng Sān kū zǒu le kèren.

(Zhang San cried and as a result the guest left.)

1b. 她们赶跑了小偷。

Tāmen gǎnpǎo le xiǎotōu.

(They drove away the thief.)

1c. 雷声吓哭了孩子。

Léishēng xiàkū le háizi .

(The thunder frightened the child and as a result he cried.)

1d. 孩子逗笑了妈妈。

Háizi dòuxiào le māma.

(The child amused his mother and as a result the mother laughed.)

When an intransitive verb functions as a resultative complement, it is, in fact, not an intransitive, but an Achievement. As intransitives, ‘zǒu’ and ‘pǎo’ mean ‘walk’ and ‘run’; as Achievements, ‘zǒu’ means ‘leave’ and ‘pǎo’ means ‘escape’, both denoting a change of state. ‘kū’ (cry) and ‘xiào’ (laugh) are emotionally related verbs that describe ‘acts of will’. They can also express involuntary actions, that is, actions provoked as a result of some subsidiary activities (as in (1c, d)). When used in this sense, the subject is not the agent who carries out the action volitionally, but rather, it has an affected semantic role, which means, he is affected or provoked to ‘cry’ or ‘laugh’. From not crying or laughing to crying or laughing is a change of state, namely from a state (of not crying or laughing) to the action of crying or laughing. In short, the point that we are making is that some Activity verbs, when they do occur in the slot of V2 acting as a resultative complement, have changed to an Achievement denoting a change of state.

[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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