事件语义学视角下英语轻动词构式及其汉译思考

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论文字数:29556 论文编号:sb2021102715062639174 日期:2021-11-09 来源:硕博论文网
本文是一篇英语论文,本文运用事件语义学理论,特别是Vendler的分类理论,对英语轻动词结构进行了语义分析。这一过程是基于前人的研究和对单语语料库的观察。研究发现,大多数英语轻动词结构都具有以下语义特征。首先,一个典型的英语轻动词结构表达了目的意义。

1 Introduction

1.1 Research Background
Light verb construction (LVC) is a common expression in English, for example:
The underlined phrase of the sentence is considered to be a complex predicate thatinvolves two parts: a semantically light verb such as “make”, “take”, “have”, etc., and a nouncomplement. In this structure, the verb involves little meaning but only functions as a markerof person or tense. Therefore, it must combine with an additional expression to form acomplete predicate, which is usually a verbal noun, and the semantics of the whole structureis primarily determined by the noun.
As a common phenomenon, the study of English light verb construction has arousedmany scholars’ interest. Most of them dedicate to studying the internal structure of light verbconstructions from different perspectives, such as construction grammar, general grammar,generative lexicon theory, etc. Although the semantic study on English light verb constructionhas been studied before, it only describes the facts and remains controversial. Generally, it isconsidered that the entire light verb construction is semantically equivalent to thecorresponding verb of the noun complement, for example, “make an answer” has the samemeaning with the simple verb “answer”[1][2]. While some scholars argue that light verbconstruction has undergone the process of semantic bleaching, so there is a slight semanticdifference between these two expressions[3][4]. The debate on semantics of English light verbconstruction also expands to their Chinese translation forms:
It can be observed that English light verb construction is slightly different from thecorresponding verb in view of event semantics. However, the study of English light verbconstruction has been rarely mentioned from the macroscopic view, especially in the field of“event”. What’s more, there is no explanation of the specific semantic features of Englishlight verb construction from the perspective of event semantics. Most importantly, theChinese translation study of English light verb construction has not been mentioned so far.
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1.2 Research Significance
The study on English light verb construction has been paid much attention since severaldecades ago as a common language phenomenon. This study aims to explore and illustratesemantic features of English light verb construction, their Chinese translation and thejustification of translation within the framework of event, and thus will be of somesignificance in this area from the following aspects.
First of all, the object of the research has been broadened. Compared with the formerstudy that concentrates on the zero-derivation form of a verbal noun in light verbconstructions, this present study takes both zero-derivation forms and derivation forms intoconsideration, which will provide a more comprehensive understanding of light verbconstructions.
Secondly, this research aims to explore semantic features of English light verbconstruction on the basis of event, which opens up a new perspective for the study of lightverb constructions.
Last but not least, Chinese translation of light verb constructions in English has not beenstudied before, which leaves an entirely blank space in this field. Therefore, the translationstrategies and justifications of translation provided may be of great help for translating andteaching English light verb constructions. It provides a reference for both translators andEnglish learners to use them more correctly and efficiently.
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2 Literature Review

2.1 Studies on Event Semantics
Originally “event” is a concept in the field of philosophy. Later it is gradually introducedinto linguistics, especially in event semantics. The interpretation and comprehension of“event” is the fundamental question in the study of event semantics. Different scholars havedifferent understandings of the definition of events, the scope of the study in event semantics,and how to apply formal analysis from the perspective of event.
2.1.1 Studies on Event Semantics
Pawley[5]defines “specific event” as “a conceptual event consisting of a specific action,taking place at a specific time and place”, “event” is “a segment of time at a given locationthat an observer conceives to have a beginning and an end”[6]. Maienborn[7] interprets “event”as “a particular spatio-temporal entity with functionally integrated participants” and putforward three linguistic diagnostics: events can serve as infinitival complements of perceptionverbs; events can combine with temporal and locative modifiers; events can combine withmanner adverbials.
In 1967, Davidson[8], an American philosopher and logician, put forward event “e” as anargument. Thus adverbs in sentences can be regarded as the predicate of the event argument.Davidson’s idea can be seen as a kind of event from a narrow sense with only actionsentences involved. At that time, Davidson’s proposal of event argument did not arise theinterests in academia. In contrast, Bach[9] in 1986 used “eventuality” to indicate event from abroader sense, involving both action sentences and state sentences. “Eventuality” is dividedinto states and non-states by Bach.
Tab. 2.5.2 Vendler’s Classification of Verbs[12]
Tab. 2.5.2 Vendler’s Classification of Verbs[12]
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2.2 Studies on English Light Verb Constructions
English light verb construction has been an object of linguistic study for many years, andthe researches mainly focus on: the definition and classification of light verbs[1][13], semanticanalysis of light verbs and light verb constructions[13][14][15], the study of register and regionalfeatures from experience[16][17] or corpus-based method[18][19].
The concept of English Light verb was firstly proposed by Jesperson[1], it refers to verbswith lighter semantics, such as “get”, “make”, “take”, and “have”. Generally speaking, theselight verbs must be combined with a noun phrase (usually converted from a verb) to form averb phrase for the semantics to be complete. For instance, in the construction “have a look”,the light verb “have” is considered to be a verb with little meaning except for the additionalinformation such as person and tense, while the noun “look” carries the main semanticsdenoting an event or a state. Later on, other scholars gradually define similar “light” verbswith various names, such as “function verb”[13], “lexically empty verb”[20], “delexical verb”[21],“general verb”[22], “empty or stretched verb”[23] and so on.
The construction formed by light verbs is called a “light verb construction”, and it hasbeen a popular topic among academia. Allerton[23] puts forward “stretched verb” regardinglight verb construction as a kind of “periphrastic verbal construction”. Despite these, lightverb construction is also considered as a “V+N complex predicate”[17], “V-NPconstruction”[14], “functional verb structure”[24], “delexicalized verb”[25] and “delexicalverb”[26] in domestic study. Despite all different names, light verb construction remainsessentially the same, it is basically formed as a “light verb+a/an+noun” structure[27]. As“noun” in light verb construction is normally derived or zero-derived from its correspondingverb, it is generally called “deverbal noun”[28].
Tab. 4.2.1 Telicity Feature of English LVC in Chinese Translations
Tab. 4.2.1 Telicity Feature of English LVC in Chinese Translations
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3 Research Methodology................................. 15
3.1 Research Questions.......................................15
3.2 Corpus.....................................15
3.3 Research Instrument...........................16
4 Semantic Features of English Light Verb Constructions and Their ChineseTranslations................................17
4.1 Semantic Features of English Light Verb Constructions.........................17
4.1.1 Telicity Feature................................. 17
4.1.2 Quantification Feature..........................................19
5 Chinese Translations of English Light Verb Constructions..............................26
5.1 Chinese Light Verb Construction................................ 27
5.1.1 MAKE group.................................... 30
5.1.2 GIVE group................................ 31

5 Chinese Translations of English Light Verb Constructions

5.1 Chinese Light Verb Construction
Through the observation of the parallel corpus, one of the primarily used correspondingstructures is Chinese light verb construction, with high frequency such as “进行”, “产生”, “加以”, “留下”, “作出” and so forth.
Light verb construction is a universal phenomenon across languages, and the same thingis true for Chinese. There are constructions made up of various light verbs in Chineseexpressions such as “进行”, “加以”, “给予”, “作”, “搞” and others, which are usually called“dummy verbs” or “weak verbs” as well. In Chinese grammar, atelic verbs generally cannotappear independently, while they can be changed to be telic by adding light verbs like “进行”[26]. Subsequently, Jiang[57] studies the characteristics of the sentence-completion functionof the Chinese light verb “进行”. By activating the noun property of deverbal nouns, the lightverb “进行” can then make the sentence complete. In the same way, a light verb in Chinese may also be a semantically empty verb. The event or the predicate of light verb constructionmainly comes from the complement part rather than the light verbs. For example, in Chineselight verb construction “进行调查”, the event of action is mainly denoted by the complementnoun “调查”, whereas the light verb “进行” only indicates a process aspect of the event.
As for register, both English and Chinese light verb constructions mainly occur inwritten and formal language. That is because event nouns formed by adding noun suffixesrepresent abstract actions in English. On the contrary, nouns directly converted from verbsrepresent more straightforward actions under normal conditions. For example, the same verb“move” can transform into nouns like “move” and “movement”, the first noun is convertedfrom the original verb without any change in form, which means “a change of action andposition”[52]. As for another noun “movement”, it is derived from the verb “move” by addingthe suffix “-ment” with a more abstract and richer meaning. Apart from the meaning of“change of position”, “movement” can also denote more abstract concepts such as “changesin activities, movements, behaviors or ideas”, for example, “a mass movement for change”[52].As light verb constructions with abstract expressions mostly appear in relatively formaloccasions or written language, their corresponding Chinese expressions should be morecomplex and formal, so Chinese light verb construction can provide a more suitable stylisticfeature which is “solemn” and “formal”.
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6 Conclusion

6.1 Major Findings of the study
In this research, a semantic analysis of English light verb construction and its Chinesetranslation has been made from the perspective of event semantics. Here are some significantfindings of the thesis.
To begin with, the study makes a semantic analysis of English light verb constructionwith the theory of event semantics, especially Vendler’s classification. This process is basedon the previous research of scholars and the observation of the monolingual corpus. It isfound that the majority of English light verb constructions are semantically featured in thefollowing viewpoints. Firstly, a typical English light verb construction expresses a telicmeaning. Within Vendler’s classification, verbs can be divided into four types, and it is alsotrue for the verbs in English light verb constructions. Except for accomplishments andachievements carrying bounded properties in nature, activities in English light verbconstructions also show the telic semantics. The conversion from a verb to an event noun willassign a telic property to the original verb. Moreover, the deverbal noun turns to be telic underthe influence of the indefinite article “a” or “an”. Therefore, it can be concluded that lightverb construction can realize the transformation from atelicity to telicity. Secondly, light verbconstruction formed by “light verb+a/an+deverbal noun” has the quantification functionbecause of the indefinite article. It limits the occurrence of the action that occurs andexpresses the [-iterative] meaning. Thirdly, light verb construction shows a semanticbleaching or weakening feature for converting from a simple verb to a light verb as anincremental semantic process. The whole construction weakens the momentum of the actionand shortens the time the action takes place and even bleaches the event of the action behind.
In addition, after the analysis of the parallel corpus, it has been found that theproportions of semantic features of English light verb constructions in Chinese translation are:telicity (90.4%), quantification (91.4%) and semantic bleaching (74.4%), indicating that thesemantics of these translations are generally consistent with the original text despite someslight differences.
reference(omitted)

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