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“She from bookshelf take-descend-come the box”

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Abstract

This paper investigates the lexical semantics of placement verbs in Mandarin. The majority of Mandarin placement verbs are directional verb compounds (e.g., <i>na2-xia4-lai2</i> &#8216;take-descend-come&#8217;). 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, <i>fang4</i> &#8216;put&#8217; and <i>na2</i> &#8216;take&#8217;, 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.

References

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