How to Open the “Window of Attention” in Serial Verb Constructions

AbstractThis paper investigates the manner in which path events are specified in Mandarin serial verb constructions (SVCs) and how such representations incorporate attentional processes, as reflected in Talmy’s (1996, 2000) theory of Windowing of Attention. Here we focus on the verbs laí (come) and qù (go). The results show that: (1) laí and qù in SVCs mainly represent open path, followed by fictive path and closed path respectively; (2) laí or qù in Mandarin SVCs tends to adopt final path windowing. Final windowing accounts for 60.3% for SVCs with laí and 65.7% for SVCs with qù. This suggests that Mandarin SVC with laí or qù profiles the final part of the construction, and the information at the end is the key information. The present study offers a new account for the information distribution of SVCs and sheds light on the event segmentation of SVCs.

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