From meaning to motivation: cognitive approach to the interpretation of resultative construction in the Chinese language

RUDN University
Issue 49

The paper deals with the cognitive approach towards the interpretation of direction attributes function in the resultative construction of the Chinese language as a perspective opposing the conventional theory of grammaticalization. The objective of the study is to analyze the reasons why the conventional theory is ineffective with regard to the formation of real grammar skills and to demonstrate the benefits of the alternative approach in explaining the reasons why the speaker chooses a certain attribute in particular situations. The basic method of the study is deduction. To illustrate the differences between the two approaches, the author has studied the application of three direction attributes to the action ‘to buy’. Factors that limit the grammaticalization theory's explanatory power are two incorrect initial assumptions. The first is the assumed equality between regulation of language phenomena and the language regulation of the cognizable. The second is the assumed equality between the semantics itself and the mechanism of its generation. This study shows that the similar grammatical function of direction attributes in different languages is caused by the human equating trajectory in space to changes in time. The grammaticalization observed in the language is not a semantic, but a cognitive process. The choice of one or another direction attribute is primarily connected not with the action by itself, but with the propositional mindset of the human knowing: by generating the message about a result, the person assesses the states ‘before’ and ‘after,’ defining the core differences between them.  In practice, the new approach may help non-native speakers develop the skills to ‘guess’ the perspective of Chinese native speakers. In theory, it may be useful for learning the mechanism of the semantics’ generation.        

For citation

Tszin, T. (2023). From meaning to motivation: cognitive approach to the interpretation of resultative construction in the Chinese language. Issues of Applied Linguistics, 49, 99-122.

This artiсle is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.