City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
0 like 0 dislike
22 views
asked Aug 5 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,480 points) | 22 views

1 Answer

0 like 0 dislike
In traditional analysis (Chao, 1968), V1 is considered as the head, and V2 as the complement. But some scholars maintain that V2 is the head and hence the semantic focus of a RVC, while V1 functions as an adverbial, denoting the manner of ‘how the resultative state is achieved’. Gu (1992) makes a thorough study of the syntax of the RVC and argues cogently that the relationship between V1 and V2 is not modification or subordination, but is equal, with V1 denoting an activity and V2 the resultant state. Since the two verbs are equal in category, they are both able to determine the features of the compound verb and its argument structure as well. We won’t go into detail about the theoretical arguments for this position, but just summarize the general meaning of the hypothesis. Gu argues that in the literature it is held that the head of a verb compound should be able to determine the argument structure of the verb compound. We have noticed that many resultative verb compounds, though they contain a V1 or V2 which is an intransitive verb taking no object argument, become transitive and can take the object argument. For example: ‘Tā pǎo diū le yī zhī xié’ (She ran and as a result she lost a shoe), in the RVC ‘pǎo diū’, the V1 ‘pǎo’ (run) is intransitive, so we cannot say * ‘Tā pǎo le yī zhī xié’ (*She ran a shoe), though we can say ‘Tā diū le yī zhī xié’ (She lost a shoe). Since the RVC ‘pǎo diū’ (run-lose) is transitive, it must have inherited the argument structure of V2 ‘diū’ (lose) and becomes transitive. This fact would lead us to say that V2 is the head of the RVC. But in ‘zhuàngdǎo le yī gèrén’ (ran into a person and as a result he fell down), V1 ‘zhuàng’ (run into) is transitive, so we can say ‘zhuàng le yīge rén’ (ran into a person), but not * ‘dǎo le yīge rén’ (* fall down a person), since V2 ‘dǎo’ (fall down) is intransitive. Then, in this RVC, it is V1 ‘zhuàng’ (run into) that decides the argument structure of the verb compound. Consider another example: ‘Māma jiāo huì le wǒ nà shǒu gǔshī’ (Mother taught me the ancient poem and as a result I learned it by heart), the V1‘jiāo’ (teach) takes two objects: the indirect object ‘wǒ’ (I) and the direct object ‘nà shǒu gǔshī’ (that ancient poem); while the V2 ‘huì’ (can, be able to) only takes one object: as in: ‘wǒ huì nà shǒu gǔshī’ (I know that ancient poem). Obviously, in this RVC ‘jiāo huì’ (teach-can), its argument structure is decided by V1 ‘jiāo’ (teach). However, in another case ‘Dìdi xià yíng le bàba liǎng pán qí’ (Younger brother beat Father in two rounds of chess.), the V2 ‘yíng’ (win) takes two objects, the Oi ‘bàba’ and the Od ‘liǎng pán qí’, as in ‘Dìdi yíng le bàba’ (Younger brother defeated Father.) and ‘Dìdi yíng le liǎng pán qí’ (Younger brother won two rounds of chess), but V1 ‘xià’ (play (chess)) can be followed by one object, as in ‘Dìdi xià le liǎng pán qí’ (Younger brother played two rounds of chess.), but not *‘ Dìdi xià le bàba’ (*Younger brother played Father.). So in the RVC ‘xià yíng’ (Play (chess)-win), which is transitive and takes both indirect and direct objects, it is V2 ‘yíng’ (win) that passes on its argument structure to the RVC. These examples provide us with convincing evidence that in the RVC, both V1 and V2 can determine the argument structure of the RVC. In terms of the position that the head of a verb compound is able to determine the argument structure of the verb compound, the conclusion that naturally emerges is that both V1 and V2 can function as the head of the RVC.

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

1,435 questions

1,732 answers

21 comments

12,676 users

1,435 questions
1,732 answers
21 comments
12,676 users