Diachronic and Synchronic Analyses of the Postposing of Iterative and Durative Adverbials in Chinese

Jeeyoung Peck, Assistant Professor,Modern Language and Literature, University of the Pacific

This study discusses the rise of a semantic constraint for the postverbal structure over the course of the history of Chinese as a motivation of sentential positional change of situation delimiting temporal adverbials denoting duration and iteration of events. The situation delimiting adverbials either shifted to or remained in the postverbal position through analogy with a quantized direct object whose default position has been constantly postverbal. This analogy was motivated by the semantic correlation between these adverbials and quantized objects. As a result, situation delimiting adverbials were reanalyzed as pseudo objects (e.g.,jie zhebenshu jie le *sanci*) in Early Mandarin, and distinguished syntactically from other pure temporal adverbials denoting frequency and temporal frame of events. The analogy was triggered by the emergence of event classifier, which enabled speakers and hearers to metaphorize quantization in event domain expressed by delimiting temporal adverbials with quantization in object domain expressed by countable nouns. We also discuss the principle of expressivity and economy shown in analogy and metonymy process over the course of development of event classifiers. Not only the changes reflected in the historical data of Chinese, but also syntactic correlates between situation delimiting adverbials and direct arguments confirm the validity of the rise of semantic constraint in the postverbal structure in Chinese history.

Thursday, November 04, 2010 | 5:15 pm — 6:30 pm
Building 250 - Room 108, Main Quad

Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures