Chinese aspect (was: Re: Help on Verbs...)
|From:||Matt Pearson <jmpearson@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, October 27, 1999, 15:33|
John Cowan wrote, about languages having aspect:
>> Really? Even, like, Chinese?
>Absolutely yes. The particle "le", which has many functions in Chinese
>(arguably it is two different particles, a sentence particle and a verb
>particle, which get merged if both would appear in the same sentence),
>represents among other things perfective aspect. The particle "zhuo"
>represents progressive aspect.
And don't forget "guo", a different perfective particle which indicates
something like stativity or 'prior experience', as in the following
(correct me if my Mandarin is a little rusty):
wo chi-guo Zhong-guo-fan
I eat-GUO Chinese-food
"I have eaten Chinese food (before)"
Using "guo" here means that the sentence does not refer to a particular
event or episode, but merely indicates that eating Chinese food is part
of the speaker's prior experience of the world, that s/he has eaten Chinese
food at least once in his/her life (how about calling this the "ex-virgin"
I remember being very impressed by "guo" when I was studying
Mandarin, and promptly incorporated it into Tokana, in the form of the
'indefinite past' suffix "-un". Compare:
kima ias-e maka unto
we eat-PST meat whale
"We ate whale meat"
kima ias-un maka unto
we eat-INDEF.PST meat whale
"We have eaten whale meat before"
The first sentence asserts a specific event: The speaker is claiming
that at some specific point in the past, s/he and some other people
ate some whale meat. The second sentence asserts a prior experience:
The speaker is claiming that s/he and some other people have the
property of having tried whale meat at some point in their lifetimes.