Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The aspects of Aspect

In English, tense and aspect are usually conflated. Thai doesn't grammatically mark tense at all, but it has an "extremely rich" system for marking aspect. ARGT outlines 19 "aspectual auxiliaries."

This is an exercise identical to the one I did on pragmatic particles- I've hunted for "real" examples of usage from my Doraemon manga. My standard disclaimer of "I don't know what I'm doing" applies to both my translations and interpretations of my reference grammar's explanations.

I've bolded the auxileries and bolded the words they translate to, when applicable. Often it's just not possible.

1. _แล้ว
This shouldn't be confused with the perfect/anterior usage of แล้ว (see below @ 11.) It "shouldn't", but honestly, I'm finding the distinction difficult to understand in certain contexts. I may have this example backwards.
Anyway, in this form, it indicates a completed event. Sometimes translated in ARGT with "after".

อ๋อ...! นายกินโกหก 800 เข้าไป... แล้วพูดว่าฉันคงไม่ได้กลับมาแล้วใช่มั้ยล่ะ
"Oh! You drank the Liar 800... and said that I wouldn't return, right?"
Notice the 2nd use of แล้ว, which I believe is the #11 usage. I'm probably overthinking this, because I do seem to grasp the meaning in either use. It doesn't really matter that I can't discern the precise linguistic difference.

2. _อยู่
This is "used post-verbally for all types of continuous aspect". Other pre-verbal auxiliaries can be used in conjunction- ARGT details กำลัง, ยัง, นั่ง, and คอย.

อยู่ can be used on it's own.
"Why is it sleeping?"

กำลัง _ (อยู่)
"Emphasises a continuous situation"
"I'm thinking the same way!"

ยัง _ (อยู่)
"Indicates no change in a situation."
"Then Perro will still be alive."

3. นั่ง _ (อยู่)
This is used with either stative or "low-energy" verbs and must have a human subject.

"You're absentminded every day."

(This is a bad example, as นั่ง also means "sit" and can be interpreted as a serial verb- this is more probably "You sit here absentminded every day." ARGT notes the ambiguity.)

4. คอย (อยู่)
คอย also means "wait" but I couldn't find any example of it being used aspectually.

5. _ไป
ไป is a very common verb, but here it's used as a "continuative" auxilery which implies more deliberate continuation than the regular progressive aspect.
"Keep watching!"
(There is another usage of ไป, (see #13) but the contexts are so different you can't confuse them.)

8. กำลังจะ _ อยู่
Inceptive. "refers to the phase which leads to, or may lead to, an event."
"You're about to go to school on your own."

9. จวนจะ _
This is similar but "can be used for a less intentional event with inanimate subjects."

10. _ จบ, _ เสร็จ
Terminative- "finish doing". จบ focuses on "completion", while เสร็จ focuses on "the ending of an activity, not necessarily the completion."
"When our task is done, we'll take you down."
(I don't see how this differs from just being a resultative sequential verb but oh well.)


11. _ แล้ว
This is what ARGT says: "Perfect/anterior aspect concerns the 'relevance' of a particular situation with respect to the current situation." It translates the examples with the word "have", as in "I have eaten" vs "I ate."

"You had promised Doraemon this."

With stative verbs (adjectives), it "indicates that the critical point has been reached".

"Now I'm serious."

"I know!" ("Eureka!")

12. มา
Similar to the previously mentioned แล้ว but doesn't fall at the end of the sentence. In some cases emphasizes the fact that a situation has been continuing up to the reference time."
"I raised it since it was an egg."
13. _ ไป
When used with "destruction or disappearance" verbs, this emphasizes the destruction or disappearance.

"The elephant is gone!"

14. _ (ไป)เสีย
"Indicates that an event has taken place completely with an irreversible result."

"I couldn't find you for the longest time."
This is another swiss-army word, so I'm not 100% on this one.

15. _ ไว้
"Indicates a completed event which is considered beneficial in the future."
"Last year you promised!"
16. เพิ่ง(จะ) _
An action that has just happened- "immediate perfect/anterior"

"He's just recieved freedom for the first time."

17. เคย_
"have an experience of doing". Basically "ever."
"We once were happy (had happiness) like this."

18. ได้ _
When ได้ is pre-verbal, it basically means "get to do" (the more common post-verbal usage conveys ability.)

"And I got to evacuate to the countryside with my family.
It seems more common in the negative, where it "normally refers to the past time frame." IIRC, it often sort of acts like a general past-tense, which is why I'm not translating the following sentence with "get".

"The cats weren't speaking truthfully."
The translation doesn't really contain any hint of the inchoactive ได้, but its effects is there. If you take ได้ out of the sentence, you get แมวไม่พูดจริงๆ, "The cats aren't speaking truthfully." The inchoactive ได้ defiently alters the aspect, marking the event (the cats lying) as completed.

19. _ ขึ้น & _ ลง
"Change-of-state" verbs that apply to stative verbs (adjectives). The former means "increase" and the later "decrease", although they act differently on some words.
The wind's strength has increased.
Then, the war ended. (Lit: got quieter (สงบลง).
This text appears over a mushroom cloud. Assuming that สงบ acts the same as it's synonym เงียบ, these auxs have an interesting effect. With ขึ่น it "implies that the degree of silence has increased" while with ลง that "the degree of noise has decreased". Seems an apropos way to describe the effect of an atomic bomb.

Next: Question-word-questions, which are giving me a bit of trouble due to their ability to also be indefinite expressions. 

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