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Friday, May 18, 2012

Some other characteristics of 著(着)

Today our Modern Chinese Grammar and Syntax class started talking about Case Grammar Patters (格語法), but our teacher is fond of going off topic today and decide to further look at three functions of 著 (or 着 for you Mainland students), and I thought I would throw that part of the lecture up on the blog (or at least what I understood of it), since using English to work out what my teacher said in Chinese always seems to help me better understand the material. Anyway, lets take a look at 著!

Grammatically, we often think of 著 as a durative, or as representing a continued state... as expressed in the following explanation:


The focus here is on the continued state of an action or condition. However, from what I gathered in my lecture today, that is only one of its several functions. I don't pretent to be an expert on the patter (so take the follow with a grain of salt) but this is what I understand.

著 can be used as a "manner adverb" expression, for example: 他慢慢地吃著 (nibble at food). Here the state of being slow and nibbling is being modified by 著 and thus serving as sort of adverb.

For like a million other examples of this occurring check out the link.

著 can also represent a period of time. Let us take the example 紅臉, or the English to be red in the face (with a blushing face w/e). Here the added 著 is serving as a time marker to indicate that (當下時間) during this present time, so-and-so has a red face. This is not a continuous state, but only a time marker.

Lets look at another example: 忙著讀書 (to be busy reading). Here again, 著 is being used as representing a current period of time, not indicating a continued stated of being busy.

Finally, 著 on a third level can serve as a focal point marker (in an abstract way). Take the example above again 忙著讀書, the focal point (焦點) is on reading (讀書), and since this example phrase is incomplete, one might imagine that you would use this to describe someone perhaps busily reading before going to take a test... or leaving for the day, or something...

It should be noted that 著 is not simply "-ing" in English... it is a little more complicated than that. Again, going back to the 忙著讀書 sentence, if we just wanted to say that someone is reading, we would just say 在讀書, because we cannot say 忙讀書.

I don't know if this helps anyone better understand 著, but if it does please leave your comments below. I hope that from now on, you have a little better grasp of this characters functionality when you see it in the wild.

1 comment:

  1. 其实忙读书也是可以的, 跟忙做功课, 忙改学生的考卷等差不多。问问别人,我可能不对。


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