Tense; Past; Aspect; Pedagogy; Korean-Chinese comparative analysis; corpus study
중국문화연구, NO 31, Page. 367-395
This work investigates if Chinese has a past tense as a grammatical category or not, and also what are the major linguistic methods to mark the notion of past in Chinese. We selected one of the most widely read Korean written novel and its Chinese translation in as a corpus for our comparative analysis. We extracted sentences which include ‘-었-’ or ‘-었었-’ from Korean data and their corresponding sentences in the Chinese data. Then for Chinese sentences, we annotated what methods each sentence uses to express the notion of past, among the eight types of methods which have been observed as a past tense marker by previous studies. These methods are zero marking, lexical expression, temporal adverb, mei+V, resultative phrase, aspect markers le/zhe/guo, V+de, and sentence final particles le2/laizhe. Then each marker was ranked according to their frequency: the most frequently used method is zero marking, followed by aspect markers+mei, then by resultative phrase. The least frequently used methods are ‘de’ to begin with, followed by temporal adverb and sentence final particle le2. Our statistics demonstrates different weight of each past marker in Chinese. Next, we classified each marker into three different types, namely, syntactic, lexical and pragmatic categories, and the ratio between these three categories is 42:19:39. This result indicates that Chinese sentences rely on grammatical method with 42% of weight, lexical method with 19% of weight and pragmatic method with 39% of weight when expressing the notion of past. Our statistics supports the hypothesis that Chinese does not have a grammatical category of Tense which includes Past as its subcategory. Furthermore, based on the statistics, this study also provides some useful suggestions for teaching and learning regarding how to express the notion of past when dealing with verbs denoting various aspectual properties in Chinese. The statistical analysis drawn from Korean-Chinese comparative corpus in this work sheds light on the study of Tense in Chinese as well as the study of pedagogy for Tense and Aspect of Chinese.