‘perfective paradox’ a cross-linguistic study of the aspectual functions of -guo in mandarin chinese

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2 Citations (Scopus)


The toneless aspect mark -guo is generally viewed as a perfective marker with experiential function. It appears to be subject to a number of semantic constraints, such as discontinuity, repeatability or recurrence, reversibility, and indefinite reference. This article demonstrates that ‘experiential’ is only one of the three main local functions of -guo. Crucial to the determination of the local function of a -guo clause is the boundedness of the verb constellation: ‘experiential’ (atelic situation, typically Activity verbs), ‘deresultative’ (telic situation, typically Accomplishment and Achievement verbs), and ‘ex-habitual’ (stative verbs). We will first elucidate these three local functions and clarify various semantic constraints of -guo before examining a small corpus of 300 -guo sentences to ascertain the distribution of its local functions in authentic texts. Then we will analyze how these functions are manifested in other languages. The evidence suggests that -guo is untypical as a perfective marker; rather, cross-linguistically the lexico-grammatical exponents of the experiential, deresultative, and ex-habitual functions suggest that -guo behaves more like a perfect marker, hence the ‘perfective paradox’. This paper is intended to be a contribution to general and contrastive aspectology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-57
Number of pages35
JournalChinese Language and Discourse
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Aktionsart
  • Aspect
  • Aspectology
  • Contrastive aspectology
  • Tense

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Linguistics and Language


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