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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" aspect?). 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. Matt.