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A new study on Mandarin irrealis "V DE/BU X" construction (漢語短語結構非實然結果達成判斷式 "V得/不X"研究)

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Title: A new study on Mandarin irrealis "V DE/BU X" construction (漢語短語結構非實然結果達成判斷式 "V得/不X"研究)
Authors: Hu, Xiaoming
Keywords: Chinese Second Language
potential complement
Issue Date: Dec 2010
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2010]
Abstract: The V DE/BU X construction in Mandarin is traditionally called the „potential complement‟ and is a difficult grammatical point for Chinese Second Language students as it is a highly complex construction. Literature on the subject indicates ambiguity about whether it is a modality or aspect qualification, or both. This dissertation bears primarily on its theoretical aspects and attempts to fill the lacuna in its description. Its syntactic and semantic properties can be presented from different angles. The V DE/BU X construction belongs to the semantic category of irrealis. DE/BU insertion into Verb-Resultative (VR) construction is an epistemic modality qualification, expressing "judgment on the attainability of X, the result of an irrealis or imagined event". My description purports that since in usage it appears mostly in the negative form, it more accurately expresses "the non-attainability of X, the result of an irrealis or imagined event V", or simply that there is no possibility of V achieving X, the result. This description involves two main levels of analysis. Syntactically, DE/BU insertion operates on the invisible functional head [BECOME] of VR and reverses the perfective qualification of VR back into an imperfective aspect of the state of affairs, and thus is "attainable/non-attainable." Based on my empirical analysis of 400 authentic V DE/BU X sentences, I suggest that V DE/BU X mostly appears in irrealis types of sentences because, pragmatically, its sentential context and illocutionary features are those used in hypothetical sentences or in association with the emphatic conjunction "LIAN…DOU/YE…" etc. In addition, it appears with modal adverbs and particles, or as rhetorical interrogatives. This indicates that the V DE/BU X construction belongs to the semantic category of irrealis. It is pragmatically motivated for rhetorical effect of emphasis because with the indefinite or generic qualification of an irrealis sentence, it is disengaged from being an assertion of a person‟s opinion, prediction, or judgment and gains an impersonal or universal voice.
Description: Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2010.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - East Asian Languages and Literatures (Chinese)

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