Linguistic Temporality, Logical Meaning and Narrative Perspectives: Adverbs /zai/ and /you/ in Modern Standard Chinese


  • Jens KARLSSON Lund University



Chinese, temporal adverbs, decompositional analysis, linguistic temporality, conceptual analogy


In this paper is presented an inquiry into some aspects of the meaning and usage of two temporal adverbs zai (再) and you (又) in Modern Standard Chinese. A decompositional analysis of the semantic encoding of the adverbs is conducted, aiming to better explain their recorded differences in usage. First, a sketch of some of the fundamental features of linguistic temporality is provided in order to model the structure of temporal semantic information encoded in the adverbs. Non-temporal (logical) meaning such as assertion and inference is also shown to be an important aspect of the semantic content of the adverbs. Adverbs zai and you are shown to encode the same semantic content except for a difference in viewpoint; the first being prospective, the second retrospective. Concrete linguistic examples reflecting the intrinsic semantic encoding of the adverbs are raised and discussed. It is then argued that through combining the decompositional analysis with ideas concerning conceptual analogy, some issues raised by Lu and Ma (1999) regarding the usage of zai and you in past and future settings may be resolved.


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How to Cite

KARLSSON, J. (2011). Linguistic Temporality, Logical Meaning and Narrative Perspectives: Adverbs /zai/ and /you/ in Modern Standard Chinese. Acta Linguistica Asiatica, 1(2), 25–38.



Research articles