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Issues in Applied Linguistics

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Aspect: A Linguistic Device to Convey Temporal Sequences in Discourse

  • Author(s): Wang, Benjamin
  • et al.

This study focuses on how -guo, a perfective aspect marker in Chinese, is used by native speakers to narrate a sequence of events in their speech. The study's analysis of transcribed audio-recorded natural conversation shows that -guo indicates a situation is viewed as a bounded whole with an emphasis on the end-boundary of the situation. The discourse motivation for a speaker to use -guo is to end the situation that -guo co-occurs with and then directs the hearer's attention to the next situation. The discourse level analysis also clarifies the confusion between the analysis of -guo and another perfective particle -le in traditional studies of the Chinese aspect system: -guo is usually treated as an Experiential marker to avoid an analysis with two Perfectives. This study shows that the confusion in traditional studies stems from the limitations of sentence level analyses.

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