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nipponman

Nominatives in Chinese

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skylee
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.

I apologise if I have offended anyone. I just meant to elaborate a term someone else had mentioned, which some might not understand, and had no intention to insult anyone. But it makes no difference now.

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xiaocai

看来我必须要解释一下我所说的话。所谓鸡肋,乃是指这个讨论的内容和程度始终停留在一个胶着状态,各抒己见但是缺乏理论依据和说服力。由于我本人的语文水平尚浅,无法再提升发言的层次,所以对我来说,这个讨论已是形同鸡肋。我认为skylee明白我想说什么。同时,这并不代表对此话题有任何贬损或轻视的意味。希望这个词没有冒犯到谁,也希望谁也不要把如此之重的帽子扣在自己或他人身上。

容我最后表达一下我能说的全部内容:

在我说学过的语文知识中的,词性划分是很不严格的,无论是课本还是常用的字典,都不会标注词汇的词性。但是中文的结构是很严格的,需要通过虚词的使用来表达一个单词在句子中的成分。所以用英文或者日语的词性来对中文中的词语进行评估很难行得通。

就我目前学过有关“的”的用法,只有两种:表示修饰关系或者表示从属关系。这就相当于英语中的形容词和所有格还有“of”。那么在“那个人是从家里来的”中,“的”字怎么解释呢?我们可以将顺序稍加改变,则得到“从家里来的那个人”。显而易见,无论在变化之前还是在变化之后,“从家里来的”都是对中心词,也就是“他”的修饰限制。而通过用“是”作为谓语,首先是需要构成一个完整的句式;同时,也是对修饰成分的一种强调。因此,我之前说“动词+的”是一个“形容词性”的结构。因为,请注意,名词性的结构在中文中并无次种用法。

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HashiriKata

If anyone is still interested in the "的" in this thread or "Nominalisation", have a look at Chapter 20 (p575ff) of this highly respected reference:

Mandarin Chinese: A Functional Reference Grammar by C. N. Li & S. A. Thompson

Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988

Cheers,

HK

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Koneko

Hashirikata-san,

Ano hon no kaisetsu no hou ga motto fukuzatsu kamoshirenai. :wink:

Koneko

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Koneko

Un, Minna!

Isshukenmei ni benkyou shite ne.

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nipponman

To Improve my Chinese I'm offering a translation of about half of what xiaocai has said. Please correct me where I am wrong etc.

translation:

It looks like I've got some explaining to do. What is called 雞肋, is pointing to this argument's contents and degree which from beginning to end stays in a standstill, where every one expresses their ideas without theory to form the basis of their salesmanship(?). Due to the fact that my Chinese level is esteemed low, I

am incapable of again exalting the arrangement of thoughts of what I said,

so as far as I am concerned, this discussion already is (in a) form similar

to 雞肋. I think Skylee understood what I meant to say. At the same time,

this is definitely not representative of the idea of my degradation or looking

down on this topic. (I) don't want this to offend anyone, I also don't want

anyone to also in this way deduce this important label upon themselves.

Allow me to finally represent the entire content of which I can speak.

In the chinese knowledge I have spoken of, division of function words is

not very strict, no matter what textbook or fairly used dictionary, all

will not callout function words (words). But, Chinese (grammatical) constructions

are very strict, and must by the use of function words represent a individual

word in a sentence(?) part. Therefore using english or japanese function

words for chinese expressions ???

Then I at the present moment have studied the grammar rules for 的, and

they are only 2 types: (the type that) shows modified relationships and

(the type that) shows subordinate relationships..."

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Jose

I have been reading the chapter on nominalisation in Li and Thompson's grammar. This is one of the two grammar books I have (the other one being Yip Po-ching's "Chinese: An Essential Grammar"), and it is a brilliant book for the most part.

However, I don't like the way they use the term "nominalisation" here. To me, it seems that they are putting the cart before the horse. They start by saying that 吃的 is some sort of noun phrase, and then they go on to regard 我們合作的問題 as a case of a noun (問題) being modified by the noun phrase 我們合作的. To me it seems much more natural to think of 的 as a particle that performs an action of "adjectivisation", if you like, rather than nominalisation. Because the noun after 的 can be omitted when it is obvious, or to avoid repetition, the usage of a -的 clause as a noun phrase would be a consequence of its adjectival nature.

To put an example, I think Li and Thompson's approach is the same as if somebody were to say that in English " 's " is used to form a noun phrase because in a sentence like "My father is older than Mary's", "Mary's" behaves as a noun. Having established that "Mary's" is a sort of noun, they would then analyse the phrase "Mary's father" as a noun modifying another noun. I think such analysis would be wrong.

I prefer Claw and xiaocai's explanations. I particularly like Claw's wording:

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.

But Claw, I don't understand why you say:

在哪裡看見他的 is the only right one

If you mean that sentences like 在哪裡看見的他 defy logical explanation, I agree, but they are correct. When there is a transitive verb and an object in the -的 phrase, the 的 can be moved in front of the object. Xiaocai gave a few examples before:

“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。”

I can't really find any rational explanation for placing 的 between the verb and its object. Language is often illogical. In a recent thread, I remember we had a discussion about how 他沒有結婚以前 has the same meaning as 他結婚以前. Illogical? Yes, but such fake negatives are frequent in Spanish and French too, so I guess they reveal that human brains can easily get confused in the presence of complex grammatical structures, and this leads to some weird rules and exceptions in all natural languages.

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Claw
But Claw, I don't understand why you say:
在哪裡看見他的 is the only right one

If you mean that sentences like 在哪裡看見的他 defy logical explanation, I agree, but they are correct. When there is a transitive verb and an object in the -的 phrase, the 的 can be moved in front of the object. Xiaocai gave a few examples before...

You're right... I must have missed xiaocai's post on that. The alternative examples given do indeed seem to defy the logic of the 是…的 construction, and it did look wrong to me before. I can't seem to explain it, however I did notice one thing... if you take a look at each of the alternative examples, notice that the 的 between the verb and object can be replaced with 到: i.e. 她們是從日本來到中國。 I admit that the 是 in there is a bit awkward without an ending 的, but it could be an explanation of how this came about as people tend to speak fast:

她們是從日本來到中國的 would become 她們是從日本來的中國 as people end up slurring the 到 and dropping the last 的.

It would be interesting if you can come up with some counterexamples.

I do admit my Mandarin knowledge is not as good and I usually defer to my Cantonese knowledge to find parallels in grammar. In Cantonese, the 是…的 structure corresponds to the 係…嘅 structure. The word-for-word translation of 她們是從日本來中國的 in Cantonese would be 佢哋係由日本來中國嘅, which is perfectly grammatical in Cantonese. 佢哋係由日本來到中國嘅 is fine too. However, if you translate 她們是從日本來的中國 word-for-word into Cantonese, I don't believe it is considered grammatical anymore, perhaps because according to what I proposed above, you can't slur 到 (pronounced /dou/ in Cantonese) into 嘅 (pronounced /ge/).

Of course, I'm may be just wildly speculating like xiaocai suggested. But I think it's good to speculate. It's how linguists came up with the theories of modern linguistics... propose a theory and then see if it stands up against the actual language.

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Jose

Well, this is all very speculative, as you say. Anyway, it is interesting that in Cantonese you can only put 嘅 after the object. Maybe the possibility of placing 的 in front of the object is a relatively recent development in Mandarin, and there must be some kind of mental process that explains why at a certain moment in the evolution of the language some speakers started to put 的 straight after the verb until such usage caught on.

It is possible that the similarity with 到 played a role, as you say. My feeling, however, is that it may have had more to do with the relative length of the 是(...)的 expression. Let me try to explain what I mean.

The "是(...)的" construction is felt to be a unit in the mind of the speaker. But when you have 是 + V + O + 的, the 的 can end up quite removed from the 是. This would be especially the case if you have a long object (with adjectives, relative clauses or whatever). Because of the possibility of the object being too long, the speaker might feel the urge to bring the 的 to a closer position to the 是, so as to close the construction, if you want.

Let me make an analogy with a slightly similar case in English.

Compare the following sentences:

He took it off (1)

He took his hat off (2)

He took off the fairly old-fashioned hat that he was wearing (3)

The verb "take off" is seen as a unit in the mind of an English speaker. The object goes in front of the adverb "off" when it is short. But the longer the object becomes, the more likely the speaker is to place "off" straight after the verb. In sentence (3) above, nobody would say "took the fairly... off". By the time you finish saying the object you might have forgotten about the "off"!

Maybe something similar has happened with the Chinese 的. It could be that the presence of possibly long objects brought about a natural tendency to bring the 的 to a pre-object position and close the construction before getting to grips with a complex object. Over time, that tendency would have become normal usage with any objects, complex or not.

Well, this is all speculation but, I agree, it is extremely interesting. It helps us to deepen our understanding of the language and the way it works.

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