Durative Complements in the Hakka Verb Copying Construction

No Thumbnail Available



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Department of English, NTNU


This paper provides an analysis of the ambiguous interpretations of the durative complements in the Hakka verb copying construction, schematically represented as“NP1 V-NP2 V C3”, in terms of the constructional approach and the cognitive approach. This study has the following proposals. First, the interpretation of the durative complement hinges crucially on the aspectual properties of the V-NP2 unit. Second, contrary to what is generally assumed, a verb copying sentence may be ambiguous between the continuity reading and the repetition reading and can be viewed as a case of constructional polysemy. Third, such ambiguities arise due to the interaction between the episodic/generic duality of the V-NP2 unit and the duration/lapse of time duality of the durative complement and are a natural consequence of the gestalt effect. Finally, the varying degrees of markedness of such a sentence, influenced by world knowledge, depend mainly on the compatibility of the V-NP2 unit and the durative complement.