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Verb Classes and Aspects: Situation Type in Pre-Tang Chinese

Seiten 173 - 202

DOI https://doi.org/10.13173/zeitdeutmorggese.163.1.0173


In this paper the relevance of the verbal category situation type (Aktionsart) for the aspectual interpretation of a verb phrase in Pre-Tang Chinese will be discussed and the semantic and syntactic constraints situation type readings of a verb or a verb phrase are subject to will be presented. The analysis will be based on a comprehensive study of situation types in Han period Chinese and on the evidence from one single verb, the verb xing 行 ‘to walk, to march, to put in motion’, for which different but related meanings are provided in the literature. It will be shown that verb phrases built with this verb can—according to their syntactic environment—attain different situation type readings, namely an activity and two different event readings. On the basis of the syntactic constraints the different situation type readings of this verb are subject to it will be hypothesised that verbs in Chinese usually display one basic situation type, i. e. a set of basic syntactic features, which can shift due to the addition of other syntactic elements. Additionally, it will be shown that contrary to what has been assumed by many authors for Modern Mandarin, in Pre-Tang Chinese the category accomplishment, i. e. one of the four verbal categories proposed in Vendler's seminal study, evidently exists for verb phrases consisting of a verb and its definite inner argument.



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