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Title: Temporal reference in Cantonese
Other Titles: Yue yu li de shi jian can zhao
Authors: Choi, Misty Ka Man (蔡嘉雯)
Department: Dept. of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Degree: Master of Philosophy
Issue Date: 2006
Publisher: City University of Hong Kong
Subjects: Cantonese dialects -- Tense
Notes: 156 leaves : ill. ; 30 cm.
CityU Call Number: PL1733.C47 2006
Includes bibliographical references.
Thesis (M.Phil.)--City University of Hong Kong, 2006
Type: Thesis
Abstract: Cantonese mainly uses time adverbials and temporal markers to reveal temporal reference, though these temporal elements are not obligatorily present in every sentence. Usually stative sentences, sentences indicating immediate future events and sentences inside a discourse often lack temporal elements. This thesis is to investigate how temporal reference can be worked out in Cantonese. Single sentences, as well as sentences in discourse, will be investigated in order to find out how all temporal elements in Cantonese interact among one another to help locate temporal reference related information so that a clear picture of the temporal system of Cantonese can be obtained. There are different means to interpret the temporal reference of Cantonese. The most explicit way is the lexical realization. Cantonese uses plenty of temporal elements to mark tense and aspect in order to show the time of an event. These elements include adverbials, modals (wui, yiu, heoi, zeong, seong), aspectual markers (zo2, gwo, gan, zyu, haidou) and sentence final particles (lei4, laa3), and they are so syntactically wide-spread that it is very subtle to differentiate their meanings, especially when they co-occur in a sentence. The thesis will have a deep look at each of them to distinguish their meanings and uses. A hierarchy will be established for these temporal elements to see the role in determining their temporal contribution to the sentence in question. The Hierarchy (from strong to weak) is as follows: Absolute Time Adverbial > Tense Markers > Relative Time Adverbial > aspectual markers > Change of State Every temporal element has its default temporal reference, and the higher position in the hierarchy can override the one lower. The hierarchy is defined according to how strong the elements can determine the temporal reference. It is defined from the temporal location to the internal structure. Besides, different discourse modes also have their contribution in temporal interpretation. The five discourse modes, namely Narrative, Report, Description, Information and Argument (Smith, 2004) are investigated to see the temporal pattern in each discourse mode. It is found that under the Narrative and Report modes, when the sentence lacks temporal elements, the temporal reference of the event in question is anaphoric to that of the previous event. The event in a sentence follows the event in the previous sentence. The temporal reference of Description is static as proposed by Smith. Information and Argument are General Statives and they are always atemporal or facts that are always true. When there is no temporal element in a bare sentence, both single sentences and sentences in discourse can be interpreted by the following default pattern. For single sentences, if the sentence is stative, it is present. If the sentence is eventive, it will be classified into volitional and non-volitional events. Volitional events are interpreted as habitual or immediate future. For non-volitional events, they follow the default pattern proposed by Lin as well as Smith, i.e. telic events are interpreted as in the past or non-present and atelic events are at present. In discourse, a bare sentence will be interpreted as the default of its discourse mode. Narrative and Report are in the past while Description, Information and Argument are at present or tenseless.
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