Journal of East Asian Linguistics

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 1–32

Terminability, wholeness and semantics of experiential guo


DOI: 10.1007/s10831-007-9018-0

Cite this article as:
Wu, JS. J East Asian Linguist (2008) 17: 1. doi:10.1007/s10831-007-9018-0


This paper argues that experiential guo in Mandarin predicates on situations whose semantics as a whole is terminable. Situations in the world can be categorized into two groups in terms of the number of components in the semantics: The first group denotes bipartite semantics, i.e. a bounded event plus a (resultative) state or an activity plus a (resultative) state, and the second group unary semantics, which can be either an activity or a state. Terminability means completion for a bounded situation and termination for an unbound situation. To be compatible with experiential guo, both parts in bipartite semantics and the only part in unary semantics must be terminable. Because terminability is the required condition for the compatibility with experiential guo, I argue that, among the properties guo is usually claimed to have in the literature, only discontinuity is an inherent property of guo. As for properties such as a class meaning and the condition of recurrence, I first show that an eventuality guo presents does not necessarily have a class meaning. Then I argue that these two properties are just one facet of terminability and that they both follow naturally from terminability. Furthermore, I establish that temporal independence and indefinite past are defeasible inferences from terminability. I also argue that the difference between perfective le and experiential guo lies in that perfective le accesses only the left side of the semantics of a situation le presents, while experiential guo accesses the whole semantics of a situation guo presents. This difference explains why perfective le and experiential guo are interchangeable in some contexts, but not in the others. This paper is interesting in that the proposed semantics of guo can explain all the examples with guo, including those traditionally considered as counterexamples to the condition of recurrence and those concerning a class meaning.


Experiential guo Perfective aspect Aspects Semantics 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Foreign LanguagesNational Chiayi UniversityChiayi CountyTaiwan

Personalised recommendations