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Book Chapter

“She from bookshelf take-descend-come the box” : Encoding and categorizing placement events in Mandarin


Chen,  Jidong
Categories across Language and Cognition, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
California State University at Fresno;
Language Acquisition Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Chen, J. (2012). “She from bookshelf take-descend-come the box”: Encoding and categorizing placement events in Mandarin. In A. Kopecka, & B. Narasimhan (Eds.), Events of putting and taking: A crosslinguistic perspective (pp. 37-54). Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-1CF3-4
This paper investigates the lexical semantics of placement verbs in Mandarin. The majority of Mandarin placement verbs are directional verb compounds (e.g., na2-xia4-lai2 ‘take-descend-come’). They are composed of two or three verbs in a fixed order, each encoding certain semantic components of placement events. The first verb usually conveys object manipulation and the second and the third verbs indicate the Path of motion, including Deixis. The first verb, typically encoding object manipulation, can be semantically general or specific: two general verbs, fang4 ‘put’ and na2 ‘take’, have large but constrained extensional categories, and a number of specific verbs are used based on the Manner of manipulation of the Figure object, the relationship between and the physical properties of Figure and Ground, intentionality of the Agent, and the type of instrument.