Le , guo and zhe in Mandarin Chinese: a relevance-theoretic account

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this paper, I propose a relevance-theoretic account of the particles le, guo and zhe in Mandarin Chinese. Though conventionally regarded as aspect markers, on closer inspection they seem to contribute to a range of interpretations that cannot be subsumed under a semantic category or a specific temporal representation. The explanatory model presented in this paper builds upon relevancetheoretic ideas on encoded procedural meaning and Reichenbach’s (1947, Elements of symbolic logic. London: Macmillan) temporal schemas for the tenses and the aspects. I propose a procedure—a set of interpretational instructions (as described in, among others, Wilson and Sperber (1993b, Lingua, 90, 1–25), Blakemore (1987, Semantic constraints on relevance. Oxford: Blackwell, 2000, Journal of Linguistics, 36(3), 463–486) and Carston (2002, Thought and utterances: The pragmatics of explicit communication. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd.))—and a concept activated by the procedure for each of the particles. I show that these particles can contribute to a range of explicatures and implicatures and that their exact contribution to an utterance is highly context dependent.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History and Archaeology


  • Particles, Pragmatics, Mood, Aspect, Tense, Relevance theory, Procedural meaning
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-235
JournalJournal of East Asian Linguistics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch