The Syntax of Vietnamese Tense, Aspect, and Negation


Trang Phan

London/New York: Routledge, 2023

Publisher’s website

About the book: The Syntax of Vietnamese Tense, Aspect, and Negation investigates familiar grammatical phenomena including Tense, Aspect, and Negation in a theoretically understudied language, Vietnamese.

The purpose of this book is to thoroughly examine how these categories are realised and how they interact with one another in Vietnamese in the spirit of Generative Grammar, in particular, the Cartographic approach to syntax and its most recently developed lexicalisation technique, Nanosyntax. It is concluded that despite lacking inflectional tense, Vietnamese does have syntactic tense, i.e., Vietnamese has those structural positions which are dedicated to Tense and Aspect. In fact, Tense and Aspect in Vietnamese are realised via a rigid fine-grained functional sequence which syntacticises subtle semantic distinctions both preverbally and post-verbally. There is a two-way complicated relationship between Negation and Aspect in Vietnamese, which can be explained in a principled way by taking into consideration how the internal syntax of the temporal, aspectual, and negative markers derives their clausal syntax. This book also discusses how Vietnamese Tense, Aspect, and Negation pattern with, and differ from, their counterparts in Western Indo-European languages, and how this study contributes to a better understanding of East and mainland Southeast Asian languages more generally, as well as of language universally.

This book will be of interest to both undergraduate and postgraduate students of contemporary linguistics, and for scholars interested in contemporary approaches to Vietnamese linguistics, and Southeast Asian languages more generally.

About the author: Trang Phan was a HYI Visiting Scholar from 2020-21.