An aspectual analysis of ba

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The ba construction has been widely discussed in the literature; however, so far no analysis provides a satisfactory account for all of the distributional properties of ba. This paper considers the ba construction from an aspectual point of view. I argue that the ba predicate describes a bounded event. Whether an event is bounded in Chinese may depend on situation type only, or it may depend on both situation type and the aspect a situation is presented in. As for the ba NP, it is specific in the sense of Liu (1990). I further argue that the two properties - boundedness and specificity - are related. There is a dependency between the ba argument denotations and the event described by the predicate, and this dependency can be characterized in terms of a structure-preserving function - a homomorphism. The relation preserved is the 'all of relation. On this view boundedness and specificity are simply different manifestations of the same property that is inherent in the meaning of a ba predicate. The ba construction is thus shown to be an example of how aspectual considerations constrain both the predicate and an NP argument in Chinese.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-99
Number of pages49
JournalJournal of East Asian Linguistics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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