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Auteur: Chun CHANG

Co-Auteur(s): Chingchun HSIAO, Graduate Institute of Linguistics, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan

Verbs of Visual Perception in Sinitic Languages: Objectivity and (Inter)Subjectivity

Abstract/Résumé: This paper explores the degree of subjectivity about verbs of visual perception (hereafter VVP) in Sinitic languages, an issue that is often overlooked, by Construction Grammar (Lien 2005, Goldberg 2006). With a detailed examination of real corpus data containing daily conversations and folktales (Hans & Mair 2004), the present study analyzes the multifunctions of two highly-frequent used VVP, namely kan4 ‘look’ in Mandarin Chinese (MC) and khoann3 ‘look’ in Taiwanese Southern Min (TSM) (Chappell 2001). The data show that the multifunctions of VVP in MC and TSM are reflected in various construction types where the types of subject-oriented perception verb and complementation signal different semantic senses such as objectivity, subjectivity and intersubjectivity, as attested in the following cases: (1) [3sg Pronoun+VVP+NP]: (a) wo3 de tong2 xue2 ju4 zhe4 yang4 hui2 tou2 kan4 wo3 ‘My classmate turn his head to look at me in a certain way.’ (MC) (b) i1 put4-si5 ah0 si7 an2-ni1 giah8 thau5 khoann3 thinn1 ‘He raised his head and looked at the sky from time to time.’ (TSM) (2) [1sg Pronoun+VVP+CP]: (a) wo3 kan4 wo3 ma ma hao3 ke3 lian2 o ‘I think my mom is really pitiful.’ (MC) (b) ah0 goa2 khonn3 chit4 e5 gin2-a2 chin1 koo2-chui1 ‘Well, I think this child is really cute.’ (TSM) (3) [2sg/2pl Pronoun+VVP+CP]: (a) ni3 kan4 o ta yao4 jiao3 xue2 sheng zheng4 ‘Look! He requests you to submit your student's identity card.’ (MC) (b) li2 khoann3 hoe2-sio1-chhu3 o0 ‘Look! The house is on fire!’ (TSM) VVP in the above examples exhibit multiple grammatical functions, reflecting different degree of subjectivity in grammaticalization (Brinton & Traugott 2005, Whitt 2011). In (1), as a verb, meaning ‘look’, VVP takes two arguments, the third person singular pronoun and the concrete object taken as a noun phrase (NP). The speaker objectively describes the event of looking at someone or something. In (2), VVP has developed a more abstract sense ‘think’, taking two different types of arguments: the first person singular pronoun and the evaluated situation packaged in a clause phrase (CP). The speaker in (2) is the experiencer who shows his/her subjective attitude towards an evaluated scenario. In (3), as a more grammaticalized function, a parenthetic unit, VVP in the pattern [2sg Pronoun/ 2pl+VVP+CP] often entails intersubjectivity where the speaker uses this pattern to involve the hearer in the on-going event (Traugott & Dasher 2002, De Haan 2006). In sum, we indicate that the degree of subjectivity of VVP is encoded in types of pronoun type in tandem with complementation (Brinton 2001).