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Article Dans Une Revue 现代中国语研究 [Contemporary Research in Modern Chinese] Année : 2005

The linguistic encoding of habitual in Chinese




This paper discusses the way Chinese encodes HABITUAL (i.e. the way it marks “what constitutes a characteristic feature of an extended period of time”, see Comrie 1976). HABITUAL has long been described in relation with the grammatical categories of tense and aspect. However more recent crosslinguistic studies prove that habituality is often conveyed through markers linked with modality, which fits with Comrie’s remark that “habituality can also be modal, since it involves induction from limited observations about the actual world to a generalisation about possible worlds”. We argue that 1) Standard Mandarin uses modal auxiliary verbs such as yào ‘to want to, must, will’ and huì ‘to know how to, may, could’ to express habitual, and that their habitual meaning arises from their epistemic sense, triggered by frequency adverbials like ‘every time…’ and a non-future temporal frame. 2) This supports Givon and Palmer’s claims that there is nothing illogical for a language to use a form originally marking irrealis mood to mark present or even past habitual events, as “a habitual-marked assertion does not refer to any particular event that occurred at any specific time”. We also discuss another habitual marker: ài ‘to love to, to be in the habit of’.
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Dates et versions

hal-01385759 , version 1 (22-10-2016)


  • HAL Id : hal-01385759 , version 1


Christine Lamarre. 汉语里标注惯常动作的形式. 现代中国语研究 [Contemporary Research in Modern Chinese], 2005, 7, pp.33-49. ⟨hal-01385759⟩
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