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Contrasting aspect and tense in english and chinese: a corpus-based perspective

Project: Non-funded ProjectProjects

1/02/0331/03/04

Aspect is a linguistic phenomenon that is related to the temporal properties of linguistically described situations in the world and how these situations are presented. As the temporal notion denoted by aspect is essential to human languages, aspect has long been the subject of intensive studies by both semanticists and grammarians. The cross-linguistic contrast of aspect, however, has only become possible with the development of modern aspect theory in the last decade, notably the two-component aspect theory proposed by Smith (1991, 1997). Contrastive studies of features such as aspect in different languages have proved useful for typological research as well as for pedagogical purposes. Previous studies, however, have largely been limited to closely related languages such as English and Portuguese (e.g. Santos, 1996) or conducted without recourse to corpus data (e.g. Smith, 1991, 1997). As English and Chinese are typologically unrelated languages that differ considerably, the corpus-based contrastive study of aspect and tense of this language pair represents a worthwhile research challenge. In this project we will base our contrastive study of aspect and tense in English and Chinese on one million word corpora of English and Chinese to explore how similar (or how different) the expressions of aspectual and temporal meanings are in the two languages