Xiao, R. Z. and McEnery, A. M. (2002) A corpus-based approach to tense and aspect in English-Chinese translation. In: The 1st International Symposium on Contrastive and Translation Studies between Chinese and English, 2002-08-082002-08-11, Shanghai, China.
English is predominantly a tense language, whereas Chinese is exclusively an aspect language (c.f. Wang, 1943:151; Gao, 1948:189; Gong, 1991:252; Norman, 1988:163). While tense and aspect both provide temporal information, they are two different concepts. Tense is deictic in that it indicates the temporal location of a situation, i.e., its occurrence in relation to a specific reference time . Aspect is non-deictic in that it is related to the temporal shape of a situation, i.e., its internal temporal structure and ways of presentation, independent of its temporal location. As such, Chinese does not have the grammatical category of tense, because the concept denoted by tense is indicated by content words like adverbs of time or it is implied by context . Aspectual meanings, however, are signaled by aspect markers, grammaticalised function words that convey aspectual meaning. In short, Chinese grammatically marks aspect but does not grammatically mark tense. English, however, grammatically marks both tense and aspect. Even though both languages mark aspect, the aspect system in these two languages differs significantly. In this paper, we will explore these differences using an English-Chinese parallel corpus, showing how aspectual meanings and temporal notions in English texts are translated into Chinese.
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