Temporal Structure and Its Implication in CSL GU Yang Department of Linguistics & Modern Languages The Chinese University of Hong Kong [email protected] A sentence expresses a logical proposition which has a truth value. A proposition contains a relevant event or state depicted by a verb plus its argument(s) (semantic participants). To have truth value, such a verb phrase must be spatiotemporally anchored (EnC 1987); a sentence hence must be tensed. It is argued by many linguists that in natural language syntax, there exists a functional category of tense which encodes the spatiotemporal notion and functions to anchor a given verb phrase. Such an anchoring is analogous to interpreting referentiality of an entity in time and space. As tense is a temporal focus, its interpretation is structure-dependent. There is a topological relation holding between the verb structure and clause structure for the temporal interpretation of tense. Due to linguistic typology and grammaticalization, languages my have overt or covert tense morphology. In this presentation we discuss a series of Mandarin structures and explain how tense is manifested via various structural expressions and how it is analyzable under the core feature of reference in the temporal structure. We demonstrate that the temporal structure for interpreting Mandarin tense involves verb, aspect, as well as discourse structures. All these manifest sophisticated linguistic knowledge of the Mandarin native speaker, which makes teaching and acquisition of Mandarin tense a challenging and demanding task. As there is no overt tense morphology in Mandarin Chinese and the interpretation of tense is complex in the language, it is foreseeable that this is an area where problems will arise in terms of teaching CSL, especially for speakers whose native languages either have systematic tense morphology or use different grammatical strategies to anchor verb phrases. To facilitate the audience, we will reflect on a number of learnability problems and offer some suggestions.