City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Aug 5 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,480 points) | 21 views

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In the RVC, V1 must be dynamic in the sense that it is subject to change and development, and it is unbounded, that is, it must be open with no inherent endpoint, and V2 must be an Achievement denoting a change of state. These restrictions are due to the semantic features of the RVC. In the RVC, V1 describes a becoming process, or a developing action or state that will be exhausted in its consequence or result. Put in another way, the becoming process denoted by V1 reaches its culmination—the resultant state named by V2. These properties of the RVC are consistent with those of an Accomplishment, which describes a bounded situation consisting of an Activity and an inherent endpoint denoted by a quantified NP. The process of an Accomplishment is uninterruptible, if it is interrupted, the result cannot be achieved. Consider ‘Zhāng Sān huà le yī fú huà’ (Zhang San painted a picture.), if Zhang San’s action of painting is interrupted, we cannot say he has finished painting the picture, though we can still say that ‘Tā huà le, kěshì méi huà wán’ (he painted, but didn’t finish), and the change brought about so far by his action of painting— a half completed picture, will still exist. Similarly, RVCs are uninterruptible, if interrupted, the final result cannot be accomplished, though some effects produced by the action before the interruption are visible, too. For instance, if the process of constructing a house is interrupted, we may say ‘Fángzi hái méi gàihǎo’ (The construction of the house was not finished), ‘méi gàihǎo’ (not finish constructing) means some part of the house is completed. The similar properties between the RVC and an Accomplishment verb phrase lead to the viewpoint that the RVC is a kind of Accomplishment. From the analogy between an Accomplishment and an RVC we may conclude that the RVC is not an instantaneous or punctual event, but a complex event consisting of both a process and a resultative state. Therefore we assert that the RVC is an Accomplishment, rather than an Achievement (Smith, 1991). This has been an issue long debated by grammarians.

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.
answered Aug 5 by Ariel (34,480 points)

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