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430 The Loom of Language
pronoun So WO-TI means tmnet of me If Karlgren is right TI began
its career as a pointer word., but it no longer exists as an independent
word It is now comparable to a flexional affix such as the -s in people's
Needless to say, Chinese has no special marks for person, tense,
mood3 or voice As in colloquial Italian and Spanish, it is the usual
thing to leave out the personal pronoun when the situation supplies
it In polite or submissive speech a depreaattve expression takes the
place of the ego (WO in Pekingese), and a laudatory one ("honorific5')
does service for you Since there is no flexion the same syllable LAI
may mean go,, went., gomg^ etc In the absence of another word to
stress that a process or state is over and done with, or that the issue
is closed, the perfective particle LA can follow the verb LA is a
toneless and contracted form of LIAO meaning complete or finished
Future time can be made explicit: (a) with an adverbial particle
equivalent to soon, henceforth, later on, etc, (6) by the helper YAO
which has an independent existence equivalent to wish or want, the
original meaning of our own helper will Thus we may say, TCA LAI
he comes, he is coming; T'A LAI LA he has come, he camey TCA YAO
LAI he will come The parade PA (stop) is the signal of a peremptory
command, e g CHft) PA (clear out), but it is more polite to use YAO
exactly as we use will and the French use vouloir in will you tell me or
vewllez me due.
It goes without saying that a language with complete absence of
flexion and a large number of ambiguous words must have rules of
word-order no less rigid than those of English What is surprising is
that so many of the syntactical conventions of Chinese agree with our
own In a straightforward statement, the order in both languages is
subject—verb—object This is illustrated by the following.
I do not fear him WO PU PCA T'A.
He does not fear me T'A PU P'A WO.
These sentences show that position alone stamps WO as what we
call the subject of the first and the object of the second The object is
placed for emphasis at the head of the sentence only where misunder-
standing is impossible. In such a statement as the following, the
subject is still immediately in front of the verb.
this language I not believe
CHE-KO HUA WO PU HSIN ••
(i e I don't believe that)