LINGUIST List 14.968

Wed Apr 2 2003

Qs: Chinese Aspect Markers, Chinese Compounds

Editor for this issue: Naomi Fox <>

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  1. Liang Chen, Aspect markers in Chinese
  2. Sergio Scalise, Morphology: chinese compounds

Message 1: Aspect markers in Chinese

Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2003 20:27:42 -0600
From: Liang Chen <>
Subject: Aspect markers in Chinese

Dear linguists, I am doing some research on the distinct properties of
so called progressive aspect marker "ZAI" in Chinese, as is contrasted
with other aspect markers.

First, the progressive "ZAI" occurs preverbally,

(1) Zhangsan zai xue yingyu. [progressive 'ZAI']
 Zhangsan ZAI learn English
 'Zhangsan is learning English.'

while others occurs postverbally.

(2) Zhangsan xue-le san-nian yingyu. [perfective aspect marker 'LE']
 Zhangsan learn-LE three-year ENglish
 'Zhangsan has learnt English for three years.'

(3) Zhangsan xue-guo san-nian yingyu. [experiential or perfect
aspect marker 'GUO']
 Zhangsan learn-GUO three-year English
 'Zhangsan once learned English for three years.'

Second, the progressive "ZAI" can appear in ellipsis.

(4) A: Zhangsan zai xue yingyu ma? [progressive 'ZAI']
 Zhangsan ZAI learn English question-particle
 'Is Zhangsan learning English?'
 B: Zai (A).
 ZAI (exclamation marker)
 'Yes, he is.'

But this is not possible for "LE" and "GUO".

(5) A: Zhangsan xue-le san-nian yingyu ma? [perfective aspect marker
 Zhangsan learn-LE three-year ENglish Q-particle
 'Has Zhangsan learnt English for three years?'
 B: * LE .

(6) A: Zhangsan xue-guo san-nian yingyu ma? [experiential or perfect
aspect marker 'GUO']
 Zhangsan learn-GUO three-year English Q-particle
 'Did Zhangsan once learn English for three years?'
 B: * GUO.

Third, the progressive 'ZAI' can appear in "A-not-A" question, a typical
type of yes-no question in CHinese.

(7). Zhangsan zai-bu-zai xue yingyu?
 Zhangsan ZAI-not-ZAI learn ENglish
 'Is Zhangsan learning English?'

But this is impossible for LE and GUO.

In short, my questions are:
(1) Do other aspect languages have similar distinctions?
(2) Is there any literature on these issues?

Thanks in advance for any ideas or comments or suggestions. I will
post a summary if there is enough interest.

Best regards,
Liang Chen

Liang Chen
University of Lousiana at Lafayette
P.O. Box 40478
Lafayette, LA 70504-0478

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Message 2: Morphology: chinese compounds

Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003 09:03:08 +0000
From: Sergio Scalise <>
Subject: Morphology: chinese compounds

dear colleagues, 

we would like to ask your help in order to find relevant references on
chinese compounds. as usually, we will post the results of thids

many thanks

sergio scalise
university of bologna 

Subject-Language: Chinese, Mandarin; Code: CHN 
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