U2L13 Reference(指稱)

Introduction

If a speaker is referring to a specific one when he talks about a noun, that noun possesses definite reference(確定指稱); if the speaker is not referring to a specific one but that noun in general, that noun possesses indefinite reference(不定指稱).  Basically, this concept is the same with definite (the) and indefinite (a/an) article in English grammar.

Methods to indicate references

Method 1 Using subject to indicate a definite reference and object to indicate an indefinite reference
Method 2 Using demonstrative determinatives(指示性定詞)呢[ni1] or 嗰[go2] to indicate a definite reference
Method 3 Using 一[jat1] to indicate an indefinite reference
Method 4 Using counters(量詞)to indicate a definite reference
Method 5 Using preposition 將[zoeng1] in the structure of predicative expression in series(連謂式)to indicate a definite reference
Method 6 Using counter repetition to indicate an indefinite reference.
Method 7 Using 有[jau5] in the structure of pivotal construction(兼語式)to indicate an indefinite reference

 

In this lesson, Method 1 to 4 will be explained.

Subject and object

Since subject(主語)is a topic which speakers concerns and intentionally use it to construct a sentence, it usually possesses a definite reference.  Meanwhile, since predicate provides new information and it is used to describe the subject, object(賓語) usually possesses an indefinite reference.

Demonstrative Determinatives

Demonstrative determinatives(指示性代詞)呢[ni1] and 嗰[go2] can be used to indicate a noun possesses definite reference.

ni1 go3 jan4 hou2 mou5 lai5 maau6

呢個人好冇禮貌。

This person is impolite.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Adverb Verb Noun
Words in sentence 呢個人 禮貌

 

Subject of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 呢個
Head

 

Ngo5 hou2 m4 zung1 ji3 go2 di1 mou5 gung1 dak1 sam1 ge3 jan4

我好唔中意嗰啲冇公德心嘅人。

I really don’t like those people who lack civic virtues.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Adverb Verb Noun
Words in sentence 好; 唔 中意 嗰啲冇公德心嘅人

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 嗰啲冇公德心
Head

 

Keoi5 dap2 zo2 laap6 saap3 tung2 zak1 bin1 go2 doi2 laap6 saap3

佢揼咗垃圾筒側邊嗰袋垃圾。

He/She threw away the bag of garbage near the rubbish bin.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Predicative suffix Object
Part of speech Noun Verb Predicative suffix Noun
Words in sentence 垃圾筒側邊嗰袋垃圾

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 垃圾筒側邊嗰袋
Head 垃圾

 

Number one(一)

一[jat1] can be used to indicate a noun possesses indirect reference; you can use 一 to indicate indirect reference even on something plural with the use of plural counters.

Ngo5 hou2 m4 zung1 ji3 jat1 di1 mou5 gung1 dak1 sam1 ge3 jan4

我好唔中意一啲冇公德心嘅人。

I don’t like people who lack civic virtues.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Adverbial Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Adverb Verb Noun
Words in sentence 好; 唔 中意 一啲冇公德心嘅人

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 一啲冇公德心
Head

 

Laap6 saap3 tung2 zak1 bin1 jau5 jat1 doi2 laap6 saap3

垃圾筒側邊有一袋垃圾。

There is a bag of garbage near the rubbish bin.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun
Words in sentence 垃圾筒側邊 一袋垃圾

 

Subject of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 垃圾筒
Head 側邊

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 一袋
Head 垃圾

Counters

Counters(量詞)can be used alone to modify a noun without number for indicating the direct reference possessed by that noun; plural counters have to be used if that noun is plural. 

Nevertheless, when a noun is used as an object and it is modified only by a counter, the nuance of direct reference is not necessarily expressed, as 一 can be omitted if it is modifying nouns that follow verbs(i.e. object).

Bou6 din6 waa2 m4 gin3 zo2

部電話唔見咗。

The mobile was lost.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Predicative suffix
Part of speech Noun Verb Predicative suffix
Words in sentence 部電話 唔見

 

Subject of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head 電話

 

hai2 toi2 min6 dou6 di1 ling4 sik6 m4 gin3 zo2

喺枱面度啲零食唔見咗。

The snack on the table disappeared.

Type of sentence structure Subject-predicative
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Predicative suffix
Part of speech Noun Adjective Predicative suffix
Words in sentence 喺枱面度啲零食 唔見

 

Subject of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 喺枱面度啲
Head 零食

 

Hai2 toi2 min6 dou6 jau5 di1 ling4 sik6

喺枱面度有啲零食。

There is some snack on the table.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun
Words in sentence 喺枱面度 啲零食

 

Subject of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 喺枱面
Head

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head 零食

 

laap6 saap3 tung2 zak1 bin1 jau5 doi2 laap6 saap3

垃圾筒側邊有袋垃圾。

There is a bag of garbage near the rubbish bin.

Type of sentence structure Predicative-object
Functions in sentence Subject Predicate Object
Part of speech Noun Verb Noun
Words in sentence 垃圾筒側邊 袋垃圾

 

Subject of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier 垃圾筒
Head 側邊

 

Object of that sentence
Type of sentence structure Subordination
Modifier
Head 垃圾

Reference

  1. 張洪年(2007)。香港粤語語法的研究(增訂版)。香港:中文大學出版社,頁 106-109

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