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nipponman

Nominatives in Chinese

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nipponman
:wall:wall:wall I made a huge mistake. I saw the character 很 and mistook it for 得. You're definitely right though 寫漢字寫很難 makes no sense and is incorrect, sorry :oops: .

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Claw

I finally remembered the technical linguistic term for what is happening here. When a verb changes to a gerund noun in Chinese, it undergoes zero derivation, which is why there are no changes to the verb when you use it as a noun.

寫漢字很難 is a perfectly valid Chinese construction, because 寫 has undergone zero derivation to change from the verb "write" to the gerund "writing." In English, the derivation requires the -ing suffix, but in Chinese, it does not require any affix at all (or rather it employs a null morpheme affix).

Some might argue that Chinese has evolved this way because its requirements on word order are stricter, so there is no confusion by lacking derivation or inflection. In general, languages that have more derivation or inflection are much more lax with word order (take Latin for example, which is fully inflected and has almost no rules on word order).

See Derivation (linguistics), Zero derivation, and Null morpheme for more information.

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HashiriKata
Conversely, why not stating that 是 is a nominalizer ? Would it make less sense ?

No, 是 in this pattern is the MAIN Verb:

(你)是(在哪看见他的)?(N1+V+N2)

It seems to be no other way to check whether (V)的 is a noun, because as you said, you cannot supply anything more after 的(a).

There’s no need for anything beyond the nominal/ nominalized phrase itself.

As shown by an example already given, 他是日本人(N1+V+N2) is a complete sentence and you don’t need anything in addition to assert that 日本人 is a noun.

With regards the "是...的" pattern in general, all I can say here is that language can pattern on itself to become more versatile. The "是...的" pattern is a copy of the (B) pattern in my post, but with a distinctive usage and function.

But, you still haven't convinced me that 是...的 is acting as a nominalizer.

No, I didn’t try to do that. 是 here is the main verb of the sentence. I was only talking about the 的 in that pattern.

Anyway, I indicated earlier that this particular usage is fairly advanced but I thought that if you understand the use of の / こと well, you may be in the best position to benefit from an explanation structured the way I did (and the Japanese translations provided are not just translations. They're there for comparison.)

When a verb changes to a gerund noun in Chinese, it undergoes zero derivation, which is why there are no changes to the verb when you use it as a noun.

Exactly! That is what I meant by saying “a verb in Chinese doesn't need any nominalizer in order to function as a noun. And if you're used to nominalizers in Japanese or English, you may consider the nominalizer employed here is ø [zero]. ”

Cheers,

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nipponman

Hashirikata:

I have read my book on this subject and I think I am beginning to understand your position. My book has this to say about the matter,

是(to be)....的(modifying particle) is used to highlight the action or state of the subject.

It still doesn't seem like nominalization to me because the verb requires an object. Examples are:

  • ta4 shi4 nian4 gong1cheng2 de5. (they probably meant ta1).
    ta1 shi4 ting3 hui4 shuo1hua4 de5. (again probably meant ding3)
    ta1 shi4 zuo4 shen2me de?
    wang2 bing1 shi4 zuo2tian1 lai2 de.

I get what you're saying, but I would need to see a technical linguistic definition before I would call it nominalization. Nevertheless, I must thank you (and everyone else too) for you help, you have been quite helpful in this matter, and I thank you for taking the time to use Japanese to aid me. :D

nipponman

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rmontelatici
When a verb changes to a gerund noun in Chinese, it undergoes zero derivation, which is why there are no changes to the verb when you use it as a noun.

I totally agree on this.

No, 是 in this pattern is the MAIN Verb:

(你)是(在哪看见他的)?(N1+V+N2)

There’s no need for anything beyond the nominal/ nominalized phrase itself.

As shown by an example already given, 他是日本人(N1+V+N2) is a complete sentence and you don’t need anything in addition to assert that 日本人 is a noun.

Definitely. I agree with you in the latter case, but I was not sure that 是 is also the main verb in the former example. I take the 是...的 pattern as a whole therefore I'm not decomposing it as 是 being a verb and 的 being a nominalizer. But after a second thought, I can understand your way of decomposing the pattern.

I believe that grammatical categories are used to decide which structures are correct and work by restriction. For example nouns are nouns because they can only be put where nouns are acceptable.

Because the 是+V+的 pattern is rigid, I cannot see any application (say, for building grammatically correct sentences or detecting wrong ones) of "knowing" that V is nominalized.

According to my interpretation of grammatical categories, you cannot state that V is nominalized, and you cannot state the opposite either. But is is okay because 是+V+的 is self-sufficient.

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Koneko

なんであなたの中国語はそんなに上手だの??

英語もすごく上手だね!

うらやましい!

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HashiriKata
なんであなたの中国語はそんなに上手だの??

英語もすごく上手だね!

你过奖了,还差得远呢。

请多多指教! :oops:

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Koneko

お互いに勉強しましょう!

よろしくお願いします。

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Altair
The example you gave, 我喜歡游泳, could equally as well be translated as I like swimming as I like to swim. The point is that Chinese words do not inflect to show these differences as they do in other languages.

I think I understand why this statement was made and would agree with it on the surface; however, is it strictly true? "I like swimming" can always replace "I like to swim," but I do not think the reverse is true. "To swim" in this phrase always refers to the subject; whereas "swimming" has a more general reference.

Compare these two statements: "I don't like to smoke" and "I don't like smoking." The first implies that the speaker has smoked in the past and means that the speaker dislikes it when he or she smokes. It says nothing about whether he or she minds if others smoke. The second sentence means that the speaker dislikes smoking no matter who does it, but could apply even if the speaker has never smoked.

I assume that 我不喜歡吸煙 means: "I don't like to smoke." Can it also mean: "I don't like smoking." (i.e., I don't like it when others smoke.)? How does one make these distinctions in succint Chinese?

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Claw

Perhaps 我不喜歡吸煙的?

Adding the 的 makes the meaning become more like, "I don't like those who smoke," or even "I don't like things related to smoking," which gives it a more general reference rather than just referring to the subject.

Most of the time in English, the gerund and infinitive forms can be used interchangeably, but they do have subtle distinctions in other cases. This link has examples of some of these differences, but it mostly refers to differences caused by the verb preceding the gerund/infinitive. Unfortunately it doesn't have an example similar to your "smoking" and "to smoke" case, where the difference stems from the gerund/infinitive itself.

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HashiriKata

I go along with Claw. :D

Altair, you may also find it useful to think of the difference between the two along the line:

我不喜歡吸煙 as N+V+Infinitive; and

我不喜歡吸煙的 as N+V+Nominal(isation)

Cheers,

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Koneko
"I don't like smoking." (i.e., I don't like it when others smoke.)? How does one make these distinctions in succint Chinese?

我不喜欢吸二手烟。

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xiaocai

HashiriKata举了一些例子,很又道理,却始终有一些地方我不能完全理解。

根据例句可以看出,在“是……的”结构中,当“的”前面的动词是不及物动词,那么可以认为“的”把动词“变成了”名词(虽然我个人并不这样认为,不过仍然能够理解)。但是,当“的”前面的动词为及物动词时,我们可以看到:

“你是在哪看见他的?”也可用这种说法“你是在哪里看见的他?”

那么,同样的:

“我是骑车来学校的。”=“我是骑车来的学校。”

“她们是从日本来中国的。”=“她们是从日本来的中国。”

总之,只要动词是及物动词,通常都能同时适用于这两种结构。

这让我很难同意在这里“动词+的”是一个名词性结构。 :conf

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HashiriKata

Xiaocai,

I understand what you are saying but "nominalisation" does not confine to just verbs or intransitive verbs, as you seem to have taken. Any type of verbs, any verb phrase, and any sentence can be nominalised to function as a noun.

By the way, from the point of view of nominalisation, I don't see the difference between sentences such as “你是在哪看见他的?” and “你是在哪里看见的他?” , as both 在哪看见他的 and 在哪里看见的他 have the same grammatical status.

Cheers,

HK

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xiaocai

是吗?我是无论如何都不会在划分句子成分时把他们视为相同的结构。

看来我们所学的中文语法基础并非同一版本。所以我不想再讨论这个鸡肋问题了。 :wink:

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skylee

Guys, at least we can learn something from xiaocai's last post - "雞肋".

雞肋 = 食之無味,棄之可惜 / 食之無肉,棄之有味 (which is the perfect description for this thread)

Read the story -> 楊修之死

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HashiriKata
雞肋 = 食之無味,棄之可惜 / 食之無肉,棄之有味 (which is the perfect description for this thread)

skylee, you surprised me with what you've just said. You shouldn't mix up what is or is not to your liking with its value, as you've offended all who've contributed to this thread, including the originator of the thread, by making such an impulsive statement.

Cheers,

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Claw
skylee, you surprised me with what you've just said. You shouldn't mix up what is or is not to your liking with its value, as you've offended all who've contributed to this thread, including the originator of the thread, by making such an impulsive statement.

Agreed... I'm saddened by the lack of curiousity about one's own language.

Anyway, HashiriKata, I think I know what may becausing the confusion. The 的 is actually not the thing that does the nominalization. The function of 的 is to connect a descriptive clause to a noun. However, because of the fact that the noun can be left off when it is implied, it makes it seem as if the 的 nominalizes the description.

For instance:

我不喜歡吸煙的 is in actuality 我不喜歡吸煙的Ø, where Ø is a null noun because it's implied. In English, the Ø corresponds to the word "those" in "I don't like those that smoke." You can easily replace Ø with an actual noun, such as 我不喜歡吸煙的人.

By the way, from the point of view of nominalisation, I don't see the difference between sentences such as “你是在哪看见他的?” and “你是在哪里看见的他?” , as both 在哪看见他的 and 在哪里看见的他 have the same grammatical status.

This is where you are wrong. 在哪裡看見他的 is the only right one. This is because you weren't thinking about how the nominization was actually formed by the null noun I just mentioned. This is in actuality 在哪裡看見他的Ø, where Ø is referring to a person. If you substitute 人 for Ø, you get a grammatical phrase: 在哪裡看見他的人. The answer to the question 你是在哪裡看見他的Ø would be 我是在學校看見他Ø, which literally means "I am the one that saw him at school," but in Chinese, placing 是 before 在學校 puts the emphasis of the sentence on "at school."

However, you cannot do the same for 在哪裡看見的他 because you put 他 already in the noun position after 的 -- as a result, the sentence does not make sense.

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