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Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by baosheng, Feb 22, 2013.

  1. baosheng Senior Member

    Canada, English

    I was watching a TV show yesterday and heard the following sentence:

    (context: guy is talking to his girlfriend and she says that her father is coming into Beijing today and they're going to meet him at lunch (his first time meeting her father))

    Does 也 have any special meaning here? I'm assuming it does not mean "also"... I feel that perhaps it has an emphatic meaning? (or is part of a grammatical structure?/attached to the "不"?)

  2. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie MOD

    English (UK)
    Yes, it adds emphasis. Think of it as "even/at all".
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
  3. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Mandarin 國語
    Word Order:
    Unmarked: 休再提 (e.g., 陈年往事休再提) ==> Marked 再也休提
    Unmarked: 不事先说一声 ==> Marked 事先也不说一声
    Unmarked: 不事先说一声他就偷偷照相 ==> Marked 他就偷偷照相, 也不事先说一声.
    In Classical Chinese 也 sometimes serves as a marker to separate the topic from the comment (e.g., 左傳: "子產之從政也擇能而使之", 孟子: "地之相去也千有餘里."), that is, as an intensive/filler to make the syntax clearer. Likewise, 也 in Modern Chinese sometimes serves not only as an intensive (roughly corresponding to English "even") but also as a marker to separate elements (e.g., to signal transposition of the underlying word order).
    他就偷偷照相不事先说一声 :warn:.
    他就偷偷照相也不事先说一声 :tick: (The element separator 也 is necessary for easy comprehension of the sentence).

    An interesting development:
    Classical Chinese: 子產之從政也, 擇能而使之; 再也, 休提 ==> 也 is attached to the preceding element.
    Modern Chinese: 不说, 也明白; 事先, 也不说一声 ==> 也 is attached to the subsequent element.
    Perhaps it suggests that 也 is becoming a pure intensive and losing its function as an element separator.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
  4. baosheng Senior Member

    Canada, English
    Ah, this is very fascinating. Thank you, xiaolijie and Skatinginbc for sharing your explanations and knowledge about the history/development/uses of 也!

    "transposition of the underlying word order" --> are you referring to the implicit subject before the second verb? (hmmm... I've never done verb trees in Chinese but do wonder if they follow the same principles as they do in English! I imagine the underlying word order must be similar since Chinese is also SVO, right? (actually, is underlying syntactic word order the same in all languages (for syntax trees, etc)? I seem to have forgotten a lot since the syntax classes I took years ago!))
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2013
  5. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Mandarin 國語
    Maybe I should simply say "transposition of the word order".
    Underlying word order: 不再说
    Transposition: 再也不说 (= 不再说), which means differently from "再不说" (e.g., 你再不说就来不及了).
  6. tarlou Senior Member

    Skatinginbc, are you sure about your theory? That is not so reasonable for me. It is acceptable (?) to explain 再也不说 in that way, but for baosheng's sentence, I think 也 does have meaning instead of a simple separator.

    I suggest to understand it in the following way.

    他一贫如洗,没有房子,没有车,连衣服也没有。 (也 has some sense of "also": house, car, also/even clothes.)
    ===>他连衣服也没有。 (In this sentence, we omitted normal things that a person may not have.)

    他不爱搭理人,不要说写信、打电话了,走在路上遇到熟人他连个招呼也不打。(也 has some sense of "also": 写信, 打电话, also/even 打招呼.)
    ===>他走在路上遇到熟人连个招呼也不打。 (Here we omitted relatively acceptable things.)

    你事先没有正式通知我就算了,怎么连说也不说一声? (也 has some sense of "also": 正式通知, also/even 说一声.)
    ===>你事先怎么连说也不说一声? (We omitted 正式通知 or other ways of 通知 more serious than "说一声".)
    ===>你事先怎么也不说一声?(Yeah, this is the sentence in the original question.)

    我们的部队军纪严明,老百姓的一针一线也不会拿走。 (We won't take away even a needle or a thread. Things "bigger" than a needle/thread are omitted.)

    In classical Chinese, 也 was used as a "separator", while 亦 (yi4) was used as "also". In modern Chinese, the separator no longer exists (or you may consider 啊 as a separator), and we now use 也 for 亦.
    虽一饭一缣,亦不可轻受。 (In modern Chinese: 就算一顿饭、一匹绢,也不能轻易接受。)
    Here you can see 亦 has the same function as the modern 也. So I believe the meaning "even" have existed since ancient times and it's not from the separator 也.

    In summary, 也 means "even" in all above cases. And it also serves as "also": This is not strange. You can see it is typically used in structures "连/就算...也..." (even ... is also ...). Sometimes you can omit 连/就算, the remaining 也 reminds us "even".

    PS: All these 也 can be replaced with 都.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2013
  7. SuperXW Senior Member


    否定句中的not even,逻辑关系和上面类似,所以用"也不"。

    A, also B: A,也B。
    Not A, not even B: 不A,也不B。

    事先"也不"跟我说一声 隐含意义:
    现在 我没有同意[not A],而且 你甚至没有问过我[not even B],强调了责怪的意思。
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2013
  8. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie MOD

    English (UK)
    Skatinginbc, it's too late for me to delete now but could you please remember to reply just to the question asked?
  9. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Mandarin 國語
    Sorry that I didn't make myself clear. Xiaolijie correctly pointed out that 也 in baosheng's sentence means "even". I simply wanted to add that not only does it mean "even", but it also has a grammatical function.
    A: 我和她手也拉了, 嘴也亲了.
    B: 床也上了?
    拉手 ==> 手也拉了
    亲嘴 ==> 嘴也亲了
    上床 ==> 床也上了
    说也说了, 做也做了
    Apart from meaning "also", 也 in the above sentences carries a grammatical function, i.e, separating Topic from Comment. 做(Topic) 也做了 (Comment). Without 也, the sentence would not make sense (e.g., 做做:cross:, 做做了:cross:)--A proof that it also has a syntactic function in addition to its literal meaning.
    To prove its topic-comment marking function, I also used the following example:
    他就偷偷照相不事先说一声 :warn:.
    他就偷偷照相也不事先说一声 :tick:
    Xiaolijie answered the "emphatic meaning" part. I tried to answer the "grammatical structure" part. Although is not mandatory in 你怎么事先不跟我说一声啊, it serves to clarify grammatical elements, to make comprehension easier.
    I agree that modern [FONT=&quot]也[/FONT] largely develops from classical [FONT=&quot]亦[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT].
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2013
  10. baosheng Senior Member

    Canada, English
    This is a good summary! I remember seeing this years ago but completely forgot about it. It makes a lot of sense in this way.

    Re: Topic-Comment function
    Ah, yes, I see exactly what you mean! (although I had to read it 3 times... it must be getting late! hehe) I hear this structure often but always thought people were just saying "also.. also.. also". It can only be a case of Topic-Comment, as you say!

    Thank you, everyone, for your contributions!
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2013

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