School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

SynSem Reading Group | Chen Wang presents

5 February 2018

Time: 4:00 - 5:00pm
Venue: Scape 2.01

This semester, SSRG will meet weekly and staff/students will present ongoing research.

This week, Chen Wang will present "The Non-perfective Verbal Le in Mandarin"


The verbal particle in Mandarin is generally thought to be a perfective marker (Smith 1997, Huang et all 2009). However, the occurrence of le in many non-perfective situations (with deontic modals, comparative adjective and stative predicates) has led to many objections to the perfective view and further sub-classification of this particle. In this paper, I will try to provide a different analysis which can cover both the perfective and non-perfective cases without referring to more types of le. I will argue that the particle le is essentially a quantity marker that is insensitive to perfectivity. The particle is principally only incompatible with imperfective aspect as such a viewpoint is non-quantity (unbounded) in nature. The structures with deontic modals and stative predicates are not imperfective (which is determined by a specific imperfective projection), but only lacks the projection of perfectivity, while the comparative interpretation with adjectives results from the combination of a quantity phrase and a degree phrase. This analysis shows that the quantity phrase has a basic grammatical function that is widely used in a variety of structures.

Contact reading group convenor, Chen Wang (, for more information