Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Stopping vs. Completion: a query about Aspect

Gage (1975: 258) gives the following examples to illustrate differences between Vietnamese and English with respect to the expression of Aspect:

1a. Anh ấy ngưng chạy [G: 258]
prn dem stop run
'He stopped running.'

b. Anh ấy ngưng học [G: 258]
prn dem stop study
'He stopped studying.'

c. Tôi không thể ngưng việc được.
prn neg-poss stop work can
'I couldn't stop working.'

2a. Anh ấy ăn lót lòng xong.
prn dem eat breakfast finish
'He finished eating breakfast.'

b. Tôi đã soạn đồ hanh-lý ra xong.
prn ant unpack suitcase go-out finish
'I've finished unpacking.'

[ Also, note:
Họ ăn đã xong. [G: 258]
prn eat ant finish
'They finished eating...which needs to be accounted for]

Observation: The predicates in (1) are all activity predicates, whereas those in (2) denote accomplishments or achievements. The expectation is that ngưng could also be used with the latter predicates as well; however, as in English, it should imply that the activity has stopped before completion (i.e. is temporarily suspended). Could someone please provide relevant examples?

Query: If these examples are representative, rather than a sampling error, they suggest that predicates to do with true telicity always appear postverbally, whereas 'quasi-aspectual predicates' that simply mark the edge (beginning or end) of an event (Travis' Outer Aspect?) appear preverbally. I have a sense that the syntactic options for the pre/post-verb lại bear this out. Does this seem to be on the right track?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you are right that [ngừng + accomplishment predicate] implies that the activity stops before completion. I find the following utterance quite weird.

(i) #Sau khi viết xong bức thư, anh ấy ngừng viết thư và bắt đầu dọn hành lý.

I am not sure if this is the right example. The hope is that the adverbial clause would force the predicate of the main clause to have a non-activity reading.

I try to find examples where ngừng combines with an achievement predicate but they all sound bad, for example:

(ii) *Anh ấy ngừng giết con cá

I am quite confused myself about the accomplishment/achievement distinction...