ASPECTUAL INFLUENCE ON TEMPORAL RELATIONS: A CASE STUDY OF THE EXPERIENTIAL 'GUO' IN MANDARIN
This paper examines how the temporal relation between a clause containing the experiential 'guo' and an adjacent clause is determined. Mandarin is a language not morphologically marked for tenses (e.g., Lin 2006), and therefore, tenses cannot help in determining temporal relations in Mandarin. However, Mandarin has a rich aspectual system. This paper argues that the experiential 'guo' indirectly influences temporal relations via rhetorical relations by either specifying a default rhetorical relation, or by constraining the circumstances under which a certain rhetorical relation can connect a clause with 'guo' to an adjacent clause. This paper also argues that the default rhetorical relation and the constraints are determined by the aspectual properties of the experiential marker. Other information, such as discourse connectors, lexical information, etc., can override the default rhetorical relation indicated by 'guo' and specifies a rhetorical relation. Therefore, this paper concludes that in Mandarin aspect markers can indirectly affect temporal relations by means of rhetorical relations, a result consistent with Wu’s (2005b) paper on the perfective marker 'le' in Mandarin, and Wu’s (2007b, 2004) work on the progressive marker 'zai' and the durative marker 'zhe.'
Key words: temporal relations, experiential guo, semantics-pragmatics interface