This dissertation examines the aspectual system in Gong’an Hua, a dialect of the Southwestern Mandarin subgroup spoken in Gong’an County, Hubei Province, China. Based on the data collected in the field and the researcher’s Sprachgefühl as a native speaker of this dialect, it identifies the aspect markers in GAH and describes in detail 1) the syntactic and semantic features of each aspect marker; 2) the interactions between each viewpoint aspect marker and situation types (adopting the two-component approach to aspect (cf. Smith, 1991, 1997; Xiao & McEnery, 2004)); and 3) the pragmatics of selected aspect markers. It also examines the aspectual system of GAH from a cross-linguistic and historical perspective to attempt to determine what major features it shares with other dialects and languages and what features, if any, there are that differentiate the dialect from other languages.
GAH has a vast array of morphemes and constructions to convey aspectual meanings. The aspect markers that can indicate perfectivity include the completive marker -tA21 哒, -A21啊 and -A21啦, the compound completive marker A21ti啊的 and the experiential marker ko34过. The aspect markers that are able to signal imperfectivity include the progressive marker tsai34在, inceptive marker tɕʰi21lai13起来, the continuative marker ɕiA34kʰɯ24下去 and a good variety of durative aspect markers which consist of təu21 斗, tɕʰi21起, təu21tsai34/tai34 (təu21tɤ)斗在(斗得), tɕʰi21tsai34/tai34 (tɕʰi21tɤ) 起在 (起得), təu21…tsai34斗…在, tɕʰi21…tsai34起…在, tɤ得, tɤ13iəu21得有, tsu21著/tsʰu21楚 and tso着, the perfective marker -tA21哒/-A21啊/-lA21啦, and the emphatic marker ti34的.
The aspect markers in this dialect are mainly derived from content words, in particular, verbs, which conforms to the cross-linguistic tendency of grammaticalization (cf. Bybee et. al 1994, pp. 125–175). Though originated from similar category, the aspect markers are not equally developed. More precisely, some are full-fledged grammatical morphemes such as -tA21哒, -A21啊 and -lA21 啦, and some are lexicalized aspectual complements which still preserve the lexical meanings of its origins to a certain degree such as tɕʰi21起, tɕʰi21lai13起来and ɕiA34kʰɯ24下去.
Of particular empirical and theoretical interest are the durative marking forms. Despite their similarities in co-occurring with states and activities and indicating durativity, each of them plays a distinctive role in the durative marking network in terms of syntactic, semantic or pragmatic idiosyncrasies. For example, the differences between təu21斗and tɕi21起 can be ultimately attributed to their etymological sources from which the latter has partially retained its lexical meaning. Their differences can be further examined in their compound forms, i.e. təu21tsai34/tai34斗在 (təu21tɤ斗得) and tɕʰi21tsai34/tai34起在 (tɕʰi21tɤ起得) which only occur at the sentence-final position. -tA21哒/-A21啊/-lA21啦, tɤ13iəu21得有 and ti34的 are similar in denoting the continuation of a non-dynamic homogeneous situation in locative construction. They are different from each other on the following facets. -tA21哒/-A21啊/-lA21啦 implies the completion of certain action from which a resulting state naturally arises. Besides the basic durative meaning, tɤ13iəu21得有and ti34的have rich pragmatics in context. More precisely, tɤ13iəu21得有provides an emphatic force to the existence of the object and reflects the speaker’s attitude as well; by contrast, ti34的 is more focused on the existential status of the object.
The high diversity of the durative marking in GAH is arguably resulted from language contact and linguistic diffusion, which can be partially attributed to the geographical and historical factors of this area. As a dialect spoken in a transitional area between the Northern Chinese (especially the standard Mandarin) and Southern Chinese (e.g. Xiang and Gan), GAH has inevitably absorbed linguistic elements from both sides. Meanwhile, it also has developed a unique aspectual marking system.
This dissertation presents detailed research methods as well as extensive description on the aspectual system in GAH. It is intended to provide methodological, empirical and theoretical implications to the study of the aspectual systems of many undocumented dialects in China, as well as better understanding of the linguistic situation in central China and the aspect genesis in Chinese.