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A Radial Category Perspective on Mandarin Verb Complements

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  1. Wrapping Up Wan.
  2. Some examples of wán adapted from the CALLHOME corpus.
  3. Event Completion has an extended sense I will call Patient Exhaustion.
  4. Hao to Write a Good Ending.
  5. In other usages, h?o denotes attainment that is evaluatively neutral or even negative.

In his treatment of Claudia Brugman's work on the English preposition over, Lakoff (1987) extends Brugman's analysis of that preposition as a radial category, one in which the different meanings of the word can be described in terms of a category structured radically, containing with a central sense from which other senses are extended. This type of analysis has been applied to classifiers, as in Dixon's (1982) famous look at Dyirbal's 4-way system and Lakoff's (1987) analysis of Japanese hon, as well as to prepositions such as English over (Brugman 1981) and out (Lindner 1981). In this paper I will attempt to use similar ideas to structure my look at two post-verbal complements in Mandarin Chinese

[...] Finally, there is a sense of h?o that doesn't have anything to do with attainments at all but instead simply mark that the action is finished, much like the central sense of wán (except that the verb need not denote an event extended over time). Furthermore, these uses seem to be associated with moods and more polite or affectionate language. As part of the radial category, this may extend either from Favorable Attainment or from Attainment, but because of the domain in which it is appropriate, I will associate this sense, Politeness h?o, with Favorable Attainment, since polite language itself is associated with favorable results. [...]


[...] Lindner, Susan Jean A lexico-semantic analysis of English verb- particle constructions with OUT and UP. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, San Diego. For most examples, I will provide only the Chinese transcribed in Hanyu pinyin and a rough English translation. H?o and wán will appear attached to the end of the verb, but I am not addressing the morphosyntax of postverbal complements. By completion, I mean that wán indicates the completed state of a event; if the event has stopped in the middle, the use of wán indicates that the event will not restart. [...]


[...] first mined the Mandarin CALLHOME corpus for examples, to gain a better feel for the range of uses that are possible. Next I thought of a list of verbs covering different domains of activity, including verbs of thought, speech, and various physical actions, and consulted with a native speaker over whether it was possible to combine either one of the complements, and what would be the resulting change in meaning. It is primarily with this data in hand (the consultant's judgments on acceptability are compiled in the Appendix) that I plan to venture my analysis, making connections based on hypotheses checked with my consultant. [...]

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