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Chapitre D'ouvrage Année : 2015

Chinese Semelfactives and Body Movements


In searching for internal evidence for a class of semelfactive predicates in Standard Mandarin, we investigate an aspect-sensitive marker, preverbal yī ‘one’, that exhibits strong affinity with semelfactive predicates. The verbs that typically enter this pattern show a striking similarity with those labeled as semelfactives in other languages, mostly body movements and facial expressions, likely to be construed as atomic, countable events. Preverbal yī is mainly used in narratives to express past punctiliar events with no consequent state in a chain of actions, and conveys a nuance of “suddenness”. Associated with other types of predicates, it activates the semantic features linked with semelfactivity, i.e. punctiliarity and atelicity. The “yī V” pattern discussed here is to be distinguished from another pattern where yī functions as a connector and means ‘as soon as’, which is compatible with various types of predicates.
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Dates et versions

hal-01381994 , version 1 (15-10-2016)


  • HAL Id : hal-01381994 , version 1


Christine Lamarre. Chinese Semelfactives and Body Movements. D. Xu and J. Fu. Space and Quantification in Languages of China, Springer, pp.233-247, 2015. ⟨hal-01381994⟩
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